Stressed with the prospect of appearing for offline exams, a rising number of children are facing anxiety problems, child psychiatrists have warned. Doctors are finding symptoms of anxiety and depression exhibiting in Class X students, weeks before they are set to appear for offline board exams. They have appealed to parents to not put any kind of pressure on children to score well, as it might demotivate them further.
City-based psychiatrist Dr Avinash D’Souza said students had not been anticipating offline exams, so some of them studied less and some got fewer marks in the preliminary examination. In such a situation, they are tormenting themselves over their performance in Boards.
After having studied online for almost two years and giving online exams, the return to physical exams has led to some concerns among children and parents alike. In addition to the normal exam stress that children often experience, there are some additional concerns. Some children and parents also felt the announcement of physical exams was a little sudden with no time to prepare, as everyone was gearing up for online exams which have a different format.
Dr D’Souza said, “I have been seeing students complaining of nervousness, sleeplessness, nightmares, some of them crying often and some have shown disappointment. Though we mostly counsel them, as also their parents, some of them are also prescribed medicines if they are more nervous.”
Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist at HL Hiranandani Hospital, agreed that there is tremendous pressure on children. He said most of them who consult him say they face problem writing, as for the last two years they are used to online learning and the exam process. He said, “They have lost the habit of writing, which is why they hesitate. Some of them are concerned that Covid cases can start surging again. With time, things will return to normalcy.”
Executive president of Shiksha Bharti Sangh, Subhash More said they have twice conducted writing tests so that students get used to it. He said the exam was also conducted based on important questions from the education department preparation bank. “We give them for each course, so they can read and understand the concept easily. If they pay attention, they can clear the exam easily,” he said.
Ritika Aggarwal Mehta, consultant clinical psychologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, said, “The most common concern I’ve heard is regarding writing long answers. This is due to relying largely on typing skills for almost two years. Additionally, most online exams have multiple-choice questions, rather than essay type questions.” She said another problem is the ability to pay attention and concentrate for a prolonged period of time. “Many students have been concerned over completing the syllabus in time. Another issue was that when they were studying online, children were taking screenshots of their lectures,” she pointed out.
Mehta further said that finding and studying from the appropriate screenshots (rather than notes) can be difficult, especially if the screenshots have not been organised properly. She said some children she has been meeting also spoke about the anxiety about being in a large classroom with other children when Covid still exists and the need to wear a mask for so many hours at a time which they haven’t yet gotten used to.