More than 60% of urban adolescents suffer from stress

: Educational performance, future uncertainties, home life, emerging responsibilities, and romantic issues are the key reasons

TBS Report

26 December, 2021, 05:20 pm

Last modified: 26 December, 2021, 10:10 pm

Representational image. Illustration: Pixabay

Representational image. Illustration: Pixabay

Representational image. Illustration: Pixabay

About 61.5% of urban adolescents in Bangladesh suffer from moderate to severe stress, considered an irregular health condition, due to their educational performance, future uncertainties, home life, emerging responsibilities, and romantic issues, finds a recent study.

The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, an international science journal, published the study report, “Perceived stress, eating behaviour, and overweight and obesity among urban adolescents,” in its 17 December issue. 

“The physical and mental health of adolescents in the country remained in a precarious state before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The situation deteriorated further in the last two years,” it said.

A team led by Professor Dr SK Roy, chairperson of the Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation, conducted the study on 4,609 students in different schools across the country from January to June 2019.

“We found that most of the students were stressed for future uncertainty, academic performance, and emerging responsibilities,” said Dr Rumana Rois, a member of the research team.

She, also an associate professor of statistics at the Jahangirnagar University, told The Business Standard that the study was the first of its kind in the country.

“It was a pre-pandemic situation. Now, the number of stressed adolescents might rise,” she said and called for increasing awareness in families and framing adolescent-friendly policies by the government.

The study also found that 28.2% of adolescents were overweight or obese, while only 2.7% had a very active lifestyle, and 30.5% had sedentary lifestyles.

“We must emphasise social and extra-curricular activities for adolescents,” Dr Mekhala Sarkar, associate professor at the National Institute of Mental Health, told The Business Standard.

“They (adolescents) should be kept away from electronic devices and be encouraged to spend time with friends. Interaction with friends and relatives will reduce their stress,” she suggested.

The mental health expert said cities hardly have playgrounds and other facilities for social interaction. Under these circumstances, schools should arrange different cultural activities for students, alongside academic study.

The report also found school-related issues were important sources of adolescent stress. “It is high time to recognise stress in secondary school and college-going students, and to develop strategies for improving adolescent mental health,” the researchers commented.

Other members of the research team were Khurshid Jahan, director for the Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation, Ambrina Ferdaus, its assistant programme officer, Samina Israt, national consultant, Nurul Alam, a scientist at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, and Rizwanul Karim from the Department of Community Medicine at Rajshahi Medical College.

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