Pakistani students in UK worried about mental health amid COVID-19 pandemic

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LONDON: Pakistani students studying in different universities across the UK have raised concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 on their mental health.

In an online conference called ‘solidarity in COVID-19’ which was organised by United South Asia, it was observed that the pandemic was severely impacting the students’ mental well being.

The Zoom conference was chaired by Hassan Rauf Awan and deputy chair Syed Ali Mustafa. Writers Nimra Naeem and Heena Shaikh also participated in the conference to talk about the issue.

Representatives from the London School of Economics, Brunel University, Oxford University, Southampton University, Cambridge University, Essex University, University of Hertfordshire, Warwick University, Birmingham City University, University of Liverpool and London South Bank University participated in the meeting.

Awan told the participants that mental health issues are rising among students during the pandemic. He said mental health cases have been sharply increased all over the world and the suicide of a talented Bollywood actor this week showed how mental health issues should be taken seriously. 

Awan said people of all ages and backgrounds feel suffocated, marginalised and isolated from human interaction and that has affected the mental health in an adverse way.

The chair added that the uncertainty would remain till there is a permanent solution to COVID-19. 

Vice-chair Syed Ali Mustafa encouraged students to think about how people can be together in the pandemic and express unity.

“Everyone was busy in their lives, but now the outbreak of pandemic had raised awareness of different matters. Supporting others in these hard times is the need of today,” commented President of Liverpool University Paksoc Haris Alam.

Oxford University’s Maah Noor Ali said that the changes were hard to adapt with and everyone was trying to adjust and make their way through this time.

University of Hertfordshire’s Farhan Awan raised concerns over the troubles many students faced with accommodation and food as they had lost employment opportunities. He said that his university has now introduced a hardship fund for students who lost jobs and are facing financial hardships.

On the contrary, the London School of Economics student, Behram Khan told the conference that international students were not only facing issues over their visa but were also finding it hard to find internships and placements.

“Due to the pandemic we have had more time to spend with families and we should stop political activities and stay together,” said Birmingham City University’s Jaspreet Singh. He further added that the Sikh community in Birmingham is helping people get over this pandemic by donating money to look after the communities in need.

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