Mental Health Challenges Faced by Students

Mental-health is perhaps one of the most unaccustomed and neglected terms of this era, yet unarguably it is the one with the most paramount significance and importance. Researchers and experts say this is a growing epidemic that needs urgent awareness and consideration. And on the frontline of this crisis are the most vulnerable students.
Adolescents (ones that fall in the age group of 10 to 19 years) and those in the early 20s population are heavily burdened with the demands of the fast-paced competitive world & are on the brink of a mental health crisis.
Adolescence is a critical and formative period, where individuals start their transition from childhood to adulthood. Multiple physical, emotional, and social changes, including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence, or even unprecedented life events and various pressures from peers, family, and society in general, make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems.
Various statistics and studies back up these claims. The latest available statistics state that, globally, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder. Of these, South Asia has the highest numbers of adolescents with mental disorders, but the majority of them do not seek help or receive care. The situation in India is far worse.
According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019, even before the pandemic, at least 50 million children in India were affected by mental health issues; 80–90 per cent did not seek support. Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, and if not given proper care and attention, they go on to become more serious psychological disorders. As per a study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, over 53% of Indian university students suffer from moderate to extremely severe depression. But the muddle doesn’t just end here; these unchecked mental disorders don’t give up until they lead to suicide. The top cause of death among Indian youth is actually suicide. By the time you reach the conclusion of this article, one student will have already lost his/her battle of life to this “hidden epidemic”. I.e., almost every hour a student dies by suicide.
The unprecedented degree of unpredictability and disruption brought by COVID-19 has
disheveled this already dilapidated situation of a young adult’s psychological well-being. In March 2020, as a backdrop of the growing pandemic, schools across India were shut down to curb the transmission of the virus. Children and college students have been at home for longer periods of time than ever before in recent memory. Closure of schools and universities, lack of extracurricular and outdoor activities, altered eating and sleeping habits, and lack of peer-time have fostered monotony, anguish, irritation, and diverse neuro-psychiatric symptoms. Although home should be the safest place for a person, sexual, psychological, and physical abuse have shown a significant rise during this period. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, helpline numbers for mental health counselling are seeing a huge surge in calls, with anxiety and adjustment issues topping the list.
Thus, the COVID-19 aftereffects, which resulted in quarantine and nationwide lockdowns, have already and will continue to cause acute panic, anxiety, obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and depression. It has the potential to lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long run as well.
This has unfurled a rare and unequalled global mental health problem and calls into question the psychological resilience people have had across the world. This may soon lead to an outbreak of a “second pandemic” of mental health crises.
But the list of challenges this young group faces is a much longer one. The public stigma around mental health isn’t a new thing for anyone. This has existed since time immemorial & despite global awareness, it is yet to be welcomed by we Indians. Young people, unequipped with any information regarding applied psychology, are unable to recognise the causes and symptoms of mental health problems and assume that recovery isn’t possible. People with mental health problems are perceived as dangerous and irresponsible, likely due to misinformation and misunderstanding of mental health problems as being solely composed of severe mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia). However, psychiatric labels are not commonly understood and instead, labels like “psycho” or “mad” are used for people who choose to speak up for themselves.
Public stigma is an important factor in the under-reported prevalence of mental disorders, with only 7.3% of young people in India reporting a mental disorder and fewer accessing treatment.
Ignorance and misinformation lead to stigma and discrimination hurled at mentally ill individuals. They need to be addressed alongside in order to cope with the burden of this crisis in India. If people continue to view mental illness with fearfulness and resistance, it will only make it more difficult for individuals with mental health concerns to seek the support they require due to the fear of being labelled or judged.
Added to this misery is the massive shortage of counsellors and mental health professionals in our highly populated country. A recent research finding from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry has revealed that India has merely 0.75 psychiatrists and psychologists per 100,000 people. India is perceived as a counseling-deficit sector where over 93% of schools do not have a professional counsellor on board. Furthermore, the quality of mental health care received is a grave concern as well. Educational institutions admit that many of their counsellors do not have any background in psychology, and they often recruit people for the role if they have completed a crash course in counselling. The lack of a regulatory body or mechanism governing the
functioning of counsellors in such institutions adds to the problem of the quality of healthcare being delivered to students. Moreover, the high cost of such services is another blockade on a young person’s road to recovery from a psychological illness.
Thus, it can be fairly concluded from the above unfortunate statistics that our youth face an extreme mental health crisis, which needs to be addressed in order to avoid a “broken-generation”.
The need of the hour is to sensitise and educate individuals about the signs and symptoms of mental illness while normalising the idea of seeking support for themselves and their loved ones.
There needs to be more open discussion and dialogue with the general public and not just experts on this subject, which will in turn help create a more inclusive environment for people with mental illness.
Proactively preventing psychosocial crisis,
fostering psychosocial wellness, and developing cost-optimal, widely accessible intervention
models should be the topmost priority for the government, health care personnel, and stakeholders.
Ensuring that students and young adults are fully supported in all facets of life, including mental health and well-being, is critical for fostering this transition and laying the foundation for healthy and productive adulthood. The current younger generation is the future of our globe. If we don’t heal them now, the world will turn out to be traumatic even for the aliens. Hence, it is high time a mental health crisis is tackled with deep concern, correct knowledge, and most importantly, with a warm and welcoming arm.


  1. “It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”


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