- The Covid-19 pandemic in India has created a mental health crisis.
- Experts are looking for ways to address the pandemic’s impact on school children and teachers.
India, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, is reeling from a mental health crisis. The WHO estimates that over 90 million Indians are in immediate need of mental healthcare, the worst affected being school goers and younger sections of the population.
The pandemic further weakened an already inadequate educational infrastructure in India. It brought the closure of schools, limited access to study facilities, and other benefits like mid-day meals, hygiene products, etc.
The post-pandemic era also highlighted the gendered nature of the Indian education system.
With the pandemic, education went from traditional teaching methods to online learning. This technology-based education is highly conditioned—by factors like good internet access, electronic devices, technological skills, availability of online study material, and, of course, a student’s personal adaptability to learning done through a screen.
However, surveys of educational institutions show that most of these schooling needs are not fulfilled, because of India’s structural poverty and limited resources. In fact, this digital divide has widened along gender and class lines and impacted young India’s mental health.
Specifically, the gendered divide in access to digital education has led to alarming rates of school dropout in girls. They withdraw from schools or are married off to alleviate the family’s burden. This has resulted in a sharp increase of domestic and care work, child marriages, and domestic violence.
The skyrocketing mental health and suicide cases in Indian school-going children, adolescents, and teens, as well as teachers, call for immediate action. On Singh, a school educator from New Delhi, suggests, “The concerns like safety, physical distancing, transport problems and the emotional adaptability to the changed circumstances should be addressed cautiously.”
To address their severe psychological stress, official measures should be taken to help them adjust their school performance and mental well-being to the “new normal”.
Opportunities like coaching facilities, crowd-funded technological tools, and vast and easily accessible categories of online study materials can ease the uncertainty associated with online education. Also, organizing webinars that teach social skills and mindfulness activities (like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises) can limit the pandemic’s negative impact on mental health.