Who will hear the cries of mentally struggling students?
Students are struggling; that’s it, that’s the issue. The title of this article is not clickbait. Students, like myself, and many others are visibly struggling. We are frustrated, we feel helpless and we are saddened by how inconsiderate our educational systems can be. In the month of March, the University of Guyana closed for semester break. Little did me; did we know, that would have been the very last time we’d attend physical classes. Subsequently the next week, we were faced with the effects of our General Elections. May I remind you of the emotional turmoil many faced during that time? The outburst of riots across the country, the racial war that was lit (as always) amongst citizens and the inconclusive elections that was held. All among many other issues. That was enough. Those factors were enough already for one to handle and cope with but then came Covid-19. When the first case was reported on, our country went wild; likewise our mental health.
Students are all trying to strive for greatness through academics, the way we see fit. Even if you aren’t a student right now, you were or you will be. I need my mind to focus on my studies, to write my articles and to work—I also need my mind to live a sane life! This mind of mine has been pressured, frustrated and overworked during these times. I am sure many students share the same sentiments as I do. The world is coping with a pandemic but yet here we are, studying for a degree, studying for CSEC, completing assignments and attending online classes. Our anxieties are screaming, “Why are you doing this when the world’s future is so unclear?!” Our bodies are screaming: “I am exhausted because you are overworking yourself!” Our bank accounts are screaming: “Will you be able to pay tuition fees and buy essentials with a new limited income?!” Everything and everyone around us is silently screaming but we still have academic commitments to fulfill.
I am writing this article with a heavy heart. I am one of many students who are struggling. My body is committed to my studies. My heart has a sparking desire to earn this degree. My mind, however, tells me otherwise. I am not writing this to ask students to halt all studies but we need to learn when to take a break. We need to learn how and when to take a step back. Lecturers, teachers and administrations should also pay close attention to students and their complaints. If a student is unable to attend classes because of poor internet connections; show a bit of leniency. If a student completed an assignment but sent it a day after the deadline; try to be understanding. If students ask for logical extensions; help them out. All in all, I am hopeful that students will progress through this difficult time. We will look back at this on our graduation day and we will smile an extra smile because of our successes, despite a pandemic. Your studies are just as important as your mental health. Learn to strike a healthy balance between the two. This mind of ours is fragile. This mind of ours is sacred. This mind of ours needs a break from time to time—all I ask of you is to please take care of yours.