A middle school student from Gurgaon, Aisha, who is currently studying in eighth grade, spent her entire seventh year attending an online school.

Aisha is one of the thousands of students who have missed the joy of attending physical schools.

Speaking to Outlook, Aisha shared a glimpse of her days. She said her school hours were fixed and she was ready to face her laptop at 7 a.m.

When told that most people thought there wouldn’t be much difference in the online learning process, the child looked confused. It was obvious she didn’t agree.

“I think only we, the students, can understand and understand the vast void we feel and the gap we find ourselves in. It may seem like we are learning the same curriculum, from the same books, which is true, but the feeling of not being able to sit in front of my school desk with my friend and not using notebooks and pens is often such a big change.

And it is true that it is a big change! Aisha added, “I think the way we learn online is so different. I can’t exactly point out the differences, but things are definitely different.

Aside from the networking and technical issues which became “a regular problem”, Aisha shared some dark experiences from her class online: tower system, everyone started talking and everything was chaotic and funny.

In another incident, she said: “Most of the time no one keeps their camera on and I feel like I’m looking at a wall and listening to a big black background talking to me. Somehow this human connection is lost in the process.

Lamenting about missing out on her favorite sports and extracurricular activities, going to the school library and canteen, Aisha said she was often frustrated and lost the urge to attend classes online.

Speaking about the changes that have taken place in Aisha since taking online classes, her mother said, “The long hours in front of the computer tire her mentally. Show that she also takes her classes online and then indulges in other activities reluctantly.

Aisha’s mother worried about her child’s refusal to go out to play with her friends, which “is extremely unusual because she used to like it.”

“I think she has also lost her ability to be patient. With the dawn of online lessons, she is getting restless these days.

However, it is not just the students, but the teachers and the entire school faculty are struggling to deal with 30-40 kids on a laptop screen.

“I think, as teachers try to connect with each student individually in physical lessons, so that proper feedback can be provided in a parent-teacher meeting, the same factors are missing in those lessons. online, ”says Aisha’s mother.

The coronavirus pandemic has familiarized us with the “new normal” – seeing the world and learning more through the windows of our computers.

However, the most marked change in adjusting to the new normal occurred in the education sector where the mode of learning was forced to be online due to obvious constraints.

With the world being rapidly digitalized, the quality of education was not at stake as digital learning had already paved the way before the pandemic.

However, online learning has had its drawbacks, the main one being its impact on student mental health.

Online mode: Effects

Online classes can be a relatively easy process, as visual learning has always pioneered concept clarification and never afflicted students unlike routine learning and writing. Online classes allow students to maintain their own pace compared to physical classes which might require students to constantly face their classmates, as the degree of transparency is much more in physical mode.

However, paradoxically, the lack of transparency also results in loss of communication and ambiguity during academic sessions. Students are also prone to loss of momentum during testing.

How are mental health and well-being affected?

A typical school schedule is designed in a way that balances stress at work. This balance is achieved by accompanying the academic courses with practical courses, extra-curricular activities, free periods and recreation.

However, in the online mode, activities requiring in-person participation and interaction with teachers and peers are neglected. The lack of face-to-face interaction along with the attention paid to academics resulted in severe levels of stress and frustration, especially for high school students.

According to prominent psychologists, the online assessment method as well as the college application process has created anxiety and feelings of restlessness among senior students. This often causes the students to lose motivation and the level of exhaustion and physical exhaustion is quickly reached.

Research shows that in such a situation, the brain’s ability to integrate and analyze is also hampered, resulting in poor decision making.

Speaking to international media, Sue Atkins, internationally renowned UK-based parenting expert, broadcaster, speaker and author of Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children (2012), explained: “With the sudden cessation of in-person learning, many students missed their friends, yearned to get out of the house, developed erratic sleep patterns, and drove their (often working) parents crazy. On top of that, many faced the trauma of a sick or dying family member, economic hardship, and major life changes they once had. “

The best way to experience the dynamic between mental health and online classes is to actively converse with people who are going through this situation, by doing this we derive our information from direct sources.

Speaking to a few university students in India and abroad, we asked questions that were long overdue.

Credit: Apoorva Salkade / Outlook

How Have Online Courses Affected Student Mental Health?

“I think the real purpose of online courses which is to learn is not served by online courses. It works well for a short time, but when online courses become a daily mode of learning, it feels very exhausting, ”said Gargee Goswami, a student in the Department of Psychology at Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.

Gargee added that classes often get taxing and while she does her best to concentrate, it doesn’t help much.

“The most damaging effect is the constant use of screens that affect our eyes. It comes from my own experience and I have headaches almost every week which is so scary, ”she adds.

What are the daily challenges we face when attending online courses?

“The lack of communication is obvious. India is digitizing rapidly; however, it is not yet established at ground level. The lack of face-to-face interactions made the lessons more lesson-oriented than discussion-oriented, ”says Aditya Bade, a student at NIrma University, adding that the lessons are no longer of interest to her.

Why do people have a hard time staying mentally fit during this time? Is it related to human psychology or to biology?

“Well, I think it’s both. Due to frequent blockages, most of us are not able to exercise enough, which is a physiological demand, ”said Ishika Arora, a student at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

Credit: Apoorva Salkade / Outlook

How do you think mental health can be taken care of while online courses work?

“Some of the issues that have arisen as a result of online courses are digital fatigue and isolation. In order to take care of her mental health, Disha Mukherjee, a student in the Department of Psychology at Lady Shri Ram College at the University of Delhi, suggests some ways to help yourself.

1. Having a daily mental health checkup with yourself or keeping a journal can help you stay aware and deal with any feelings, emotions, and thoughts that might get lost or mixed up due to the virtual mode and time. seemingly endless screen.

2. Keeping in touch with friends and family or any form of social support can ease the isolation one is likely to feel in online media.

3. Grounding activities and hobbies like exercising, meditating, cooking, painting, listening to music, etc. can rid the brain of the constant haze that builds up during the day and we revitalizes.