Inside my COVID-19 Diary: is the youth mental health still intact or fractured?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Goodluck Issa Nchasi, a 3rd-year medical student at Catholic University Of Health And Allied Sciences, faculty of Medicine, located in Mwanza, Tanzania. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


A famous quote from one of the great actresses of all time, Glenn Close says “ What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation. ” The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as the state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in youth. In most cases it is usually undetected and untreated until adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults. (1)

On January 30, 2020, the WHO announced that the emergence of a new coronavirus was a public health emergency of international concern. This announcement was expectantly followed by tremendous public panic and mental health stresses.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention(CDC) reports that Coronavirus disease can affect youth directly and indirectly. Beyond the direct impact of a potentially serious physical illness, this pandemic has also significantly impacted the mental well being of many youths. This can be attributed by the following challenges

  1. Change in routines: Social distancing required the need to physically distance from important supportive individuals including friends, significant others, family members or worship community.
  2. School closure: Not being able to attend school in person impeded the continuity in youth’ academic development, and reduced development of athletic or hands-on vocational skills, potentially impacting on their higher education and professional future.
  3. Loss of security and safety: Job loss and lost wages which affected most household income and youth’ families during COVID-19. (2)

A recent poll conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) showed that COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people with 27% of participants reported feeling anxiety and 15% depression. Moreover, there perception of the future has also been negatively affected, particularly in the case of young women, with 43% of the women feel pessimistic about the future compared to 31% of the male participants. (3)

The COVID-19 pandemic has fractured the mental health of most youth in the world, this needs more attention so to ensure their well being . A popular quote by an American singer, Demi Lovato says “You don’t have to struggle in silence. You can be un-silent. You can live well with a mental condition, as long as you open up to somebody about it. ”  

REFERENCES

1.              ORGANIZATION WH. Adolescent mental health 2020 [Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health.

2.              Prevention(CDC) CfDCa. COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit – Adolescence

Social, Emotional, and Mental Well-being of Adolescents during COVID-19 2021 [Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/parental-resource-kit/adolescence.html.

3.              UNICEF. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of adolescents and youth 2020 [Available from: https://www.unicef.org/lac/en/impact-covid-19-mental-health-adolescents-and-youth.

About the author

My names are Goodluck Issa Nchasi, I am a 3rd-year medical student at Catholic University Of Health And Allied Sciences, faculty of Medicine, located in Mwanza, Tanzania. I am also a member of the Tanzania Medical Students Association (TAMSA), as a student research mentor as well as former national and local officer of SCORE – Standing Committee on Research Exchange. I love sharing my ideas through writing health and research articles. I also have great enthusiasm towards medical research since it shows our faults and how to improve so as to ensure better global healthcare.

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