On a late Sunday night, Richa [name changed] reached out to her friend. Hyperventilating, she called her friend and explained she was having an anxiety attack. Richa had been experiencing such attacks quite frequently in this lockdown overthinking and doubts regarding her career and life choices were more abundant.
Her friend advised her to seek counselling. She called a counsellor the next day and is now continuing her sessions. But, in her first session, the 23-year-old woman realised that she was not the only one.
The lockdown has been taking a toll on everyone, of every age group, say the counsellors who, of late, have been seeing a lot more cases, even more than the first round of lockdown last year. Though they do not have exact data, they say the problem still stands true, with a reportedly increasing number of cases.
Counsellors share that mental health has become a problem even among the younger population. “I counselled parents who complained that their seven-year-old has been acting unusual for a few days. They shared that the child’s eating and sleeping patterns had changed. He was more distracted and aggressive every day. The worried parents did not know what to do and sought counselling,” shares Kapil Sharma, a psychosocial counsellor and trainer.
Sharma has been practising counselling for the past two and a half years with previous experience of working as a public health professional. For him, the younger generation showing tantrums and irregular behaviours are not new. “Lately, we have been seeing a lot of cases in children like having some kind of phobias, panic attacks, fussy or even aggressive behaviour.”
Regarding the case in point, he adds, “It turned out that the child was not paying attention in his online classes when he got scolded by the father for failing to make a good impression. The child got spooked and then conscious about his behaviour. So when he fell and got injured, thinking he would be scolded, he became secretive and did not tell his parents. But, the parents found out.”
This is an example of how even the smallest things can be a trigger among the younger population to start changing their behaviours.
Another psychosocial counsellor Kripa Sigdel seconds the pattern of the younger population. “The subsequent lockdowns have left an impact and have also impacted the high school students. When the SEE got postponed this year too, some reported anxiety due to academic uncertainty and their career. Another part is the social media and screen time exposure, due to which they are more prone to cyberbullying, and addiction.”