The mental health crisis has been referred to as the next pandemic. In 2020, the World Health Organization has warned about a mental health crisis that would affect millions of people globally due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A 2017 report by WHO ranks mental illness third among the most common disabilities in the Philippines. The same report ranks the Philippines as the third country with the highest rate of mental health problems in the Western Pacific Region as it has around 6 million Filipinos who are living with depression or anxiety (WHO, 2017). According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, suicide rates in the Philippines increased by 25.7% in 2020. Moreover, death due to intentional self-harm was ranked 27 among the leading causes of death in the same year (PSA, 2021). There are various studies about how the pandemic and online learning modes have taken their toll on students’ mental health. It has been over 500 days since Filipino students last stepped into their physical classrooms. Even with the calls for an academic freeze for the academic year 2020-2021, virtual and modular modes of learning are still pushed through (De Guzman, 2020). The Philippines is currently one of the few countries left that haven’t returned to traditional face-to-face classes (UNICEF, 2021). To help students during this crisis, here are some ways to cope with online learning.
While it is harder to connect with people during the online set-up it is essential to maintain your relationships. The lack of socialization can lead to further isolation which can result in loneliness. Benefits of socializing increase the sense of happiness and well-being, as well as promote purpose, confidence, and self-esteem (Dombeck, 2007). This then improves the mental and emotional health of a student. A simple phone call or eating meals with your family would already help you stay social.
Having a routine is important as it would give you structure, help you set your priorities, and become less reliant on motivation or willpower. These do not have to be big habits and may start from making your bed and cleaning your space to waking up or sleeping at the same time every day. Habit stacking would also be helpful to continue your momentum and keep productivity.
Online Study Groups
To help with the lack of motivation to study, study groups may help you as other people may influence you to become productive. This may be done with classmates or friends when studying for an exam. Online study groups are also available on Zoom and Discord platforms. On these platforms, microphones are muted while cameras are on and you would see that everyone is either studying or doing school work. This gives a productive environment that would motivate you to be productive as well. Additionally, this can be a means to socialize with other people.
Manage Your Priorities
Time and priority management are important during online classes, especially when there are asynchronous sessions or self-paced days. It is best to have a list of all your things to do, not only those for school but also your tasks. This would help you prioritize them and reduce the risk of forgetting. Having a structured list of goals would also prevent you from procrastinating. When you can handle your studies and priorities well, it would lead to less stress and anxiety.
Take a Break
Taking a break is important when dealing with stress to prevent being overwhelmed. Resting, going for a walk, stretching, and rewarding yourself may give you a mood boost as you engage in activities that give you a sense of joy. This would recharge your brain and body which helps them to maintain performance throughout the day, giving you a boost in productivity (Nayak, 2020).
Get Help When You Need It
Feeling of stress, anxiety, and loneliness are important warnings for your mental health. Seeking professional help may make you feel better and help you in dealing with your struggles. Schools and colleges have counselors that may help you with this. There are also many organizations and hospitals in the Philippines that offer free mental health services, especially to those who are affected by COVID-19. These experts may offer you coping mechanisms and tools that would help you manage stress.
De Guzman, R. (2020). DepEd, CHED say no to calls for nationwide, Luzon-wide academic freeze Retrieved from https://www.untvweb.com/news/deped-ched-say-no-to-calls-for-nationwide-luzon-wide-academic-freeze/
Dombeck, M. (2007). Socialization. Retrieved from https://www.centersite.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=9776&cn=353 National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Student Reports of Bullying. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019054.pdf
Nayak, A. (2020). You Should Absolutely Take a Break Right Now—And Here’s the Best Way to Do It Retrieved from https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/take-a-break-mental-health-screen-time
Philippine Statistics Authority. (2021). Causes of Deaths in the Philippines (Preliminary): January to December 2020. Retrieved from https://psa.gov.ph/content/causes-deaths-philippines-preliminary-january-december-2020
UNICEF. (2021). Filipino children continue missing education opportunities in another year of school closure. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/philippines/press-releases/filipino-children-continue-missing-education-opportunities-another-year-school
WHO (2017) Mental health atlas 2017. World Health Organization