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Webinar: Youths asked to keep themselves occupied, learn new skills to avoid mental health fallout

  • Published at 01:47 pm July 4th, 2020

While moderating the webinar, Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad said a student cannot study all the time at home and they need to get involved in other extra-curricular activities

With the pandemic taking its toll on the mental health of students by halting their regular lives, experts have suggested youths to keep themselves occupied by utilizing their free time in learning new skill sets to avoid mental health fallout.

Speakers came up with the comment at a webinar on mental health well-being, hosted by Dhaka Tribune on Saturday.  Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad moderated the online event.

Tawhida Shiropa, founder and chief executive officer of Moner Bondhu, a mental health service provider, said young people are focusing on what they cannot have due to the pandemic, instead of what opportunities this free time has brought for them.

“Young students, who are staying at home, can use this idle time to develop new skills. Not just hard skills, but they should also work on soft skills like empathy, compassion, anxiety management. Employers are going to value these skills in the post-pandemic job market,” she said.

She said 65% of the calls Moner Bondhu received last month was from people aged between 15 and 25.

Moner Bondhu has launched a hotline number, with the support of United Group, to provide mental health care for students and teachers. Those seeking help can call at +8801933733537 to get the service.

While moderating the webinar, Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad said a student cannot study all the time at home and they need to get involved in other extra-curricular activities.

As the students cannot really get involved in different activities and proper social interaction because of this stay-at-home situation, depression makes its way in, he said.

Zishan Mahmud, a final-year undergrad student, said young people like him are now worried how they will stand out in the job market in a post pandemic world.

“We won’t be the only fresh graduates when the job market will start functioning full. On top of that, we have to compete with people who  have lost their jobs due to the crisis,” she said.     

Professor Rezwan Khan from United International University’s Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, said this pandemic will have a long-term impact on students.

He also pointed out many students lost their part-time jobs and some are getting infected by coronavirus, which will eventually lead them into mental despair.

“Students had access to counseling sessions when the university was open. I think educational institutes should provide online mental health counseling for its students,” he said.  

Sabrina Shaheed, principal of Sir John Wilson School in Dhaka, pointed out that sometimes teachers get humiliated by individuals online, which demotivates them to take online classes.

“We cannot really see who is hiding behind the web and making these derogatory comments, but these comments do embarrass the teachers in front of the students and their parents,” she added.   

This is the reason why teachers need more training on how to take classes online and how to deal with such unwanted situations, she said.  

Kazi Shobnom, psychosocial counselor at United Hospital, said young people should keep some time for themselves everyday because it has become an important practice in this pandemic more than ever.

She recommended maintaining a proper diet and sleep hygiene to keep mental health in check.

Naveed Mahbub, a comedian and father of three, shared some ideas about how to save children from mental health fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“My daughters are keeping themselves occupied by developing new skills. We are trying to engage them in video production of the show I host since my crew cannot come to my studio,” he said.

Naveed said looking on the bright side of the pandemic could be a good coping mechanism. He thinks this stay-at-home situation has brought his family closer as he gets to spend more time with his family.

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