Covid-19: Anxiety in schools can affect mental health of students-Psychiatrist warns
As fears over coronavirus scourge increase in senior high schools, a psychiatrist is warning that the mental health of final year students can be negatively affected ahead of the West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The Head of the Psychiatry Department of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ruth Owusu Antwi, observed that the students increased exposure to covid-19 news ahead of returning to school, could be detrimental to their mental health as some of them prepare to take their final examinations.
“I’m worried that the government and parents are only considering the physical risk that students will be exposed to, and not the psychological risk.
“They are writing their examinations soon and if we don’t take care, the results can be negatively impacted,” she said on Joy News.
More than 750,000 students returned to senior high schools across the country on June 22,as the government eased covid-19 restrictions on some educational institutions.
About 500,000 of them are final year WASSCE students who returned to sit for their final examinations, while more than 250,000 others are second-year students are on the Gold track in the second year.
However, almost a month after returning to school, some of the senior high schools recorded cases of covid-19, triggering fear and anxiety among parents.
At least nine SHS in the Greater Accra, Eastern and Western regions have confirmed cases of covid-19, with the Accra Girls SHS being the hardest hit with 55 cases.
As angry scenes erupt at the Accra Girls Senior High School, Dr Antwi predicted that it was a forewarning of the anxiety levels that could grip parents in other SHS across the country, where cases have been confirmed.
She said the increasing fear and anxiety levels would not augur well for parents and teachers whose fears may directly affect the students.
She, therefore, urged Parents-Teacher- Associations (PTAs) to come to the aid of parents by using mental health experts to get psychological help for them.
“Every calibre of staff in the schools should receive some support and the parents should not be left out,” she stated.
She called for cool heads to prevail as nobody will be able to beat the pandemic with anxiety and fear.
“When we are afraid and unable to think well, our brains are unable to take the right decisions,” she noted.
Dr Antwi advised that psychological education should be incorporated into the curriculum to help students to access mental health education to inoculate them against the negative psychological effects.
“This pandemic period is a very important time for institutions, especially educational institutions to have on-site mental health experts to educate parents and staff on how to manage their anxiety levels during this time because the level of anxiety of parents will directly impact the level of anxiety of their children,” she said.