COVID-19 and its Implications on Mental Health of Youth

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Iqra Nawaz, a third-year medical student at Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur, Pakistan. She 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.

The world that was once too dynamic has now come to a halt. The roads that once witnessed the boisterous Monday morning rush to the schools and offices, today stand barren. It is as if the normal has been stolen from us. The rapid transmission of Sars-Cov-2 has called for strict lockdown, resulting in the closure of workplaces and recreational venues. The social restrictions that the pandemic has brought with it, have imparted graver mental health concerns, with a drastic increase in depression, anxiety, stress, and panic.

With isolation, quarantine, and separation from loved ones, feelings of loneliness and desolation have further contributed to creating a negative mental health space. The socioeconomic crunch, fear of unemployment, uncertainty in salaries, and increasing debt and rent have made the already panic-stricken youth more depressed and concerned.  With the implementation of lockdown, a relapse of drug and substance abuse has been reported among young adults to deal with increased stress. Physical inactivity and reduced movement further deteriorate physical fitness and wellbeing.

With the closure of educational institutions, students have suffered an irreparable loss in terms of academic and co-curricular activities. Reduced concentration span and failure to focus in online classes have impacted their academic performance, which then led to increased stress and anxiety. The time and opportunities that are lost due to this pandemic can never be returned.

Nothing can suffice the grief and anguish that comes with losing a loved one, and not being able to be with them when they are breathing their last is infuriating and melancholic. The inability to mourn the death of a loved one in person adds to the pain and sorrow. Coping with the loss of life is never easy. It renders changes in behavior, sleep patterns, appetite, and mood, instigating feelings of shock, disbelief, and denial.

Social stigma, labeling, stereotyping, discrimination, and xenophobia against a particular community or nationality or a person who has recovered from COVID-19 further worsens the mental stability of the ones going through it.

With the pandemic, domestic violence and abuse have been reported to increase dramatically. Sharing the same space as the abuser increases the risk of abuse and severely endangers physical and mental health. Furthermore, the mental health of those caring for the COVID-19 patients and those being cared for is especially important.

For a healthy mindset in times of COVID-19, it is recommended to take a break from watching the news, as much as it is imperative to learn about preventive measures but reading constantly about the virus can be upsetting. It is advised to indulge in hobbies that one enjoys, build, and strictly follow a schedule, incorporate at least 20 minutes of exercise, stay connected with family members through calls, and ask for help when needed. As the world breathes again, it becomes extremely important to address the mental health effects post-pandemic.

About the author

The article ‘COVID-19 and its Implications on Mental Health of Young Adults’ is written by Iqra Nawaz exclusively for The European Sting. She is a third-year medical student at Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur, Pakistan. She has been the member of IFMSA for three years.

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  1. COVID-19 has certainly impacted the ways in which we live our lives, including how we consume news and media. As you stated here, limiting just how much news is consumed can make a positive difference.

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