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Allow students to share what they feel to avoid pandemic depression: Psychiatrist

Jakarta Post - December 25, 2020

Jakarta – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and forced many to adapt to new situations, causing stress and mental health problems.

"Research conducted by the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association [PDSKJI] found that 69 percent of participants had faced mental health issues related to COVID-19," said PDSKJI Jakarta head Nova Riyanti Yusuf on Dec. 12, referring to the research conducted in May.

Mental health issues can affect anyone, including students engaging in at-home learning. Therefore, Nova asked parents, guardians and teachers to pay attention to this issue.

Nova explained that social restrictions had changed the way people interacted with one another. Humans as social beings are being forced to be individualists.

"It's natural for many people to experience [changes] in their mental health, which leads to distress and causes mental issues, such as panic attacks, anxiety and psychological trauma," she explained.

Therefore, she encouraged education stakeholders to collaborate to protect students from depression and for schools to implement 5T: talking, training, teaching, tools and taking care.

Nova said talking served as an entry point to get to know the issues faced by students. "It's an entry point to make students want to share what they feel," she said.

Meanwhile, training aims to hone teachers' skills in sharing the correct information.

As for teaching, it seeks to integrate the learning system and information about mental health.

Moreover, Nova also recommended that schools provide tools or infrastructure for students who wanted to share their issues, such as a hotline.

Teaching staff are also encouraged to take care of their mental health. "So, schools needs to improve teachers' mental health," she said.

She also added that to protect students' mental health, schools and parents needed to collaborate and students had to show a willingness to share their issues. "It can't stand alone," she said.

Previously, two Indonesian health institutions had raised concerns about mental health problems, as many people struggled to cope with the changes they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 14,619 people received treatment from members of the Indonesian Clinical Psychologists Association (IPK Indonesia) from March to August.

The most common issues reported were linked to learning difficulties, anxiety, stress, mood disorders and depression.

Meanwhile, a self-examination study conducted by PDSKJI from April to August found that 57.6 percent of the participants were identified as having symptoms of depression.

Meanwhile, 58.9 percent of the self-examination partakers reported having suicidal or self-harming thoughts, with 15.4 percent experiencing this on a daily basis.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has increased various mental health problems," the groups said in a statement on Sept. 10. (jes)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/12/25/allow-students-to-share-what-they-feel-to-avoid-pandemic-depression-psychiatrist.htm