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Dhaka Tribune

Survey: Half of women facing mental health issues are students

The long closure of educational institutions is the main reason behind students facing mental health issues, experts say

Update : 07 Apr 2022, 11:00 PM

A large majority of women seeking counselling for different mental health issues are students, says a survey.

The survey said about a total of 50.21% of the respondents are students followed by 21.7% service holders and 11.91% housewives.

The proportion is 2.55% for teachers, 2.13% each for entrepreneurs and doctors, and 0.43% journalists, the survey conducted by Moner Bondhu, a platform offering care for psychological well-being, reports.

The survey was conducted on 15,235 women who received services from the platform between July 2021 and February 2022. Moner Bondhu reported that women or girls mostly take the online counselling service while most of them (28.93%) are aged between 21 and 25 years and largely from Dhaka.

The organization conducted another survey in 2020 – “Psycho-social support in Covid-19 crisis for resilient community building” – which was funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and found that 54.2% of their clients were female, 45.9% were male, 76.52 % were youth, and 55.3% were students.

Throughout the year, they received 14,130 calls from 55 districts of Bangladesh and abroad. Also, they held 1,171 psychosocial counselling sessions, with 651 women and 520 men coming by complete counselling. Among them, around 82% are from urban areas.

Reason behind counselling

Moner Bondhu reported that 32% of them take counselling because of their relationship issues, 14% for anxiety and 15% for depression. On the other hand, 7% of females used this service to overcome suicidal ideation, 4% to address domestic violence, and 2% to address physical disease, insomnia, and trauma.

In 2020, however, the situation was different. According to the survey, 92% of cases were related to Covid-19 anxiety, panic, and stress. A total of 73.6% of the clients suffered from depression and others suffered from relationship crisis with partners, sleeping disorder, poor anger management, uncertainty over jobs, and educational outcomes.

Furthermore, 77.02% of their female clients used their service online, while just 22.98% used in-person counselling in their most recent survey.

The age group of 20-29 years received the most psychological counselling (76.52%), the majority being students. 

"Female students are largely receiving online counselling from us because educational institutions were closed for a long time due to Covid-19," Kazi Rumana Haque, lead psychologist of Moner Bondhu, stated.

"We've seen a lot of instances where public university students were more depressed than private university students who continued their classes online and didn't face any kind of session jam. Apart from that, families and societies put a lot of pressure on young women to marry during this time. As a result, they didn’t understand what to do,” she continued.

"Boys or men have many opportunities to ventilate their difficulties but women in our society do not have that trustworthy, pleasant environment," Iqbal Hossain, a psychosocial counsellor, stated.

Stigma toward mental illness

In our society, there are many misconceptions, as well as a lack of awareness and understanding regarding mental illnesses.

Stigma toward psychological disorders may cause delays in diagnosis and treatment but it is a pleasant thing that people are taking counselling gradually, said Dr Md Tazul Islam, professor of Community and Social Psychiatry, at the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital (NIMH).

"However, women suffer from more psychological problems than males not only in Bangladesh but throughout the world, as they need to deal with additional responsibilities,” he added.

"However, students between the ages of 12 and 25 have the most psychological problems since they go through a lot of hormonal changes throughout this time. As a result, our parents need to be more aware so that our children do not need to visit a doctor to fill any kind of gap,” he continued.

"In 2015, my mother was suffering from acute depression, and at the time, I didn't know where to begin," Moner Bondhu CEO and Founder Tawhida Shiropa said. “Later on, I developed Moner Bondhu as a result of that experience, so that others don’t suffer in the same way I did."

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