That the worst pandemic in human history would negatively impact mental health of all age groups during the lockdown is quite understandable but few could have an idea of the devastating impact it has left on students, university students in particular. A survey carried out by Aachol Foundation finds that about 85 per cent of students at the tertiary level are the worst victims of mental depression. Uncertain future, loneliness, fear of death from Covid-19, session jam, unwanted pressure for marriage and other worries were to blame for the deterioration of their mental health. Of the 2,552 university students under the survey, the majority (83.3 per cent) belonged to the age group 18-23 and 15.8 per cent to the age group of 24-28. They are sure to be representative of the university students in general.
Clearly, this is the phase to dream high in life. This generation has become accustomed to dreaming even higher because the world has turned smaller and nearer to them thanks to the digital information explosion. But suddenly students discover that a sub-microscopic pathogen has become invincible rendering the world community helpless before it. At a time they were about to embark on their life's journey, the pandemic arrives to shatter their dreams. The most sensitive segment of society cannot remain immune to this unwanted shock. True, university students should have crossed the indecisive and erratic adolescence that Rabindranath in his famous short story "Chhuti" has portrayed through Fatik but the lingering mental susceptibility does not quite vanish from the psychological makeup of the 18-23 age group in particular. As for the 24-28 age group, their concern is more practical because this is the time for building their careers and help their families financially. For more than one and a half years, no avenues for jobs were open to them.
In the Aachol Foundation's another survey, the revelation is more chilling because the latest trend among university students, it observed, was suicidal. It is confirmed by suicides committed by at least four university students recently. Uncertainty and frustration with no systemic care for mental health under the university management or a lack of family support appear to have been responsible for their untimely and unnatural death. The fact that teacher-student relationship leaves much to be desired has been exposed glaringly by a teacher of a university, who cut off long hair of a number of her students. Following this incident, one of her students attempted suicide. At a time, teachers ought to be extra caring, they are behaving in a rather overbearing manner. This is unexpected of them.
Finally, this generation, unlike the generation that fought or witnessed the Liberation War, wants to get things instantly. Their counterparts in 1971 had the ultimate determination for freeing the country from the Pakistani marauders. In that edifying objective they found themselves united but today, selfinterestsdominate youth's concern. They are, however, not to blame for this. Society has become uncaring and widening socio-economic disparities are vitiating human relations to an extent where the susceptible minds become victims. Expert counselling can be of help in making a psychological turnaround happen.