Mental health is a key challenge for both high school and college students in this time of
significant technological innovation. The advent of new technology had helped young students in various ways, academic and non-academic and has aided in the expansion of their minds. The integration of technology into students’ lives had been pleasantly welcomed by students, educators as well as parents initially.
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However, just as with any object or facility when overused, borderlines abuse and there lies the main concern. The current generation of young students has grown up using technology in various forms and has consequently watched it evolve making them one of the most vulnerable too. Prolonged exposure to any electronic device leads to a multitude of eye problems and has a lingering effect on one’s mental health. In fact, many researchers suggest that continuous usage of the internet leads to cognitive decline, memory problems and motor functions. Another factor that affects students is the tendency of getting addicted to such devices or the services provided by them such as social media apps, gaming, browsing and the like. The lack of adult supervision during the screen viewing time of youngsters also plays an integral role in them falling prey to technology. The morbid aspect of this is that most students are unaware that they are already addicted to the device and that the internet has a strong clasp on their identities.
Many parents and even teachers are unable to identify the exact reason for the decline in academic performance and one of the main causes may be a learning disability. Learning disability, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting the child’s learning capability is increasing among school students aged between 5 and 7. Many children are hyperactive and parents assume that this behaviour will change as they grow. Our society is not ready to accept or acknowledge that their children may have a problem. For all these neurodevelopmental disorders, if identified at an early age, students can be trained to cope with future life challenges and academic stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques help students be more attentive. It increases concentration and memory. It teaches them that being in the moment helps all of us solve problems effectively and to make wise decisions.
Apart from the aforementioned, students are also under academic stress. They are under constant pressure raised by society regarding their education and career in this competitive era. People fail to understand that taking part in the race is more important than winning the game. Society and parents seed the idea that winning the race is imperative for success, often leading to mental health issues among students. We all are made to chase an unattainable goal without a purpose, without knowing why? what? and where? Human beings are not programmable robots. Then why do we want our children to become machines?
As a generation, when we claim to be and want to be progressive and break the glass ceiling, stereotypes and prejudices that have been inherently forced upon us from an early age, it sure gives us a glimmer of hope to witness a shift in this perspective. The only way forward is to consciously acknowledge the existence of mental health and the concerns that revolve around it. We have to realise and accept that the mind is also an integral part of our autonomy and must not be treated otherwise. Just like we seek medical help for any physical distress, we must also do the same when it comes to our mental health.
It is upon us to collectively liberate ourselves from the stigma of living or being diagnosed with any form of mental disorder and redirect our focus toward seeking professional and timely guidance before it conquers the person.
Dr. U Vijayabanu, Associate Professor of Psychology, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University):
Let’s break the silence around mental health issues, and gain and spread awareness so that we build a strong nation as today’s students are our future!
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