Mental health problems are as common among students as they are in the general population, but many parents do not identify these issues as mental health conditions in order to benefit from counseling. Students in Kuwait, whether at university or school, suffer from stress and anxiety, so Kuwait Times spoke with students, parents and psychiatrists to learn more about issues they are going through and strategies they use to deal with their feelings.
Dr Bibi Al-Amiri, Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultant, told Kuwait Times that parents should reduce stress at home and protect their children by not exposing them to any domestic disturbances. “Children are more likely to be harmed, as the child’s brain is still developing, and what happens in their life affects the formation of the brain negatively.
Children are among the most vulnerable to anxiety, depression and stress, and it will affect them in the future in their ability to make choices and make them hesitate in their decisions,” she said. “For children to be able to resist negative influences, they must have positive relationships in their lives from friends, relatives, teachers, therapists or counselors to make them more resilient and able to resist psychological stress,” Amiri added.
Commenting on how children can act in similar situations, she said: “No matter how old the child is, they are not mature enough to change the current situation they are going through. Even if they try to avoid problems, this will cause other issues in the future. The mind is smart in receiving what we are trying to avoid.
Also, it is not children’s role to avoid problems, but of parents to protect their kids.”Regarding stress relief, Dr Amiri revealed that parents should not put pressure on students to study. “Sports and outdoor activities away from school can be a great relief of psychological pressure on the child and make their academic performance better,” she added.
Yousef Ahmed, a 22-year-old university student, told Kuwait Times that psychological pressure comes from the difficulty of exams and the large number of projects that the student should complete. “I think that with time, the pressure decreases. The first year was a nightmare, but after I made many friends, life began to get better. We study in groups to limit the stress,” he said.
Ahmed suggested a specialist who can communicate with students to help with mental issues should be a requirement. “Psychological problems are both related to academics and family at the same time. The consultant can listen to the student’s problem and reduce the academic burden due to the circumstances they are going through. We hope that there will be a counselor for students to help them with their university problems, which may be associated with other social pressures,” he added.
Jarrah Al-Dhafiri, 19, said many students have mental health problems and it greatly affects their study and the performance of the duties required of them. “Psychological stress mostly comes from school or family, but I do not think anyone will turn up if a psychiatric clinic is opened inside the university. It will be better if there is a student guide to help them and allow them to open up and talk about their current situation,” he said.
Faris Al-Qabani, 21, sees a problem with the term “psychiatric clinic”, which may alienate students from accessing it. “I think they must use the term social worker or advisor instead and suggest actual solutions, so that students can trust them,” he suggested.
Bouts of anxiety and depression can lead students to struggle with the ability to focus, loss of motivation and lack of interest in school. The Ministry of Education launched last month an online platform for mental health and social counseling for students, but parents are also applying for their children. Iman Al-Essa, a mother of two students, told Kuwait Times that support for students experiencing difficulties with their mental health is not yet professional in Kuwait.”So I think it will be a waste of time,” she said, adding that it is just a phase that student goes through and will vanish by the end of exams.
Ali Muhammed, a father of a student in elementary school, said mental illness is surprisingly common, but some people think that their children’s mental health is not bad enough to get support, which is not true, as everyone deserves care. Speaking to Kuwait Times, Sama Abdullah, a 13-year-old top student, said: “Psychological stress greatly affects her study and is the main reason for not concentrating while studying for exams.
When I am upset and have an exam, I will not be in the mood to study or even be able to remember during the exam the next day.” She added: “With my family fighting inside the house, I lose my passion for study. I blame my personality that focuses on negative issues in my life instead of focusing on my exam, which will lead to failure in the future.”
Enas Fathi, 16, told Kuwait Times she knows learning is very important and has a great role in making her a useful part of the society, but the main issue is with school. “There are a lot of smart children in school, but the teacher will not appreciate them and give them a difficult test, saying ‘you must study beyond your capacity’,” she said. “Parents and teachers care 1 percent how this can affect our mental health. I have reached a stage where I should choose between literature and science. This thing may affect my future and my grades may drop, and all I think now is how to enjoy my time before the stress of school and family disagreements.”
Faten Omar contributed this article to Kuwait Times.
All rights reserved. © Kuwait Times Newspaper 2022