The Korea Herald


3 out of 10 kids had mental problems during COVID-19: survey

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : May 3, 2023 - 15:41

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Three out of 10 elementary and middle school students suffered from anxiety, depression, and stress during COVID-19, but more than half of them did not ask for help, according to survey results released on Wednesday.

The Korean Educational Development Institute conducted a survey on a total of 26,332 people consisting of 9,607 elementary students, 13,856 middle school students and 2,869 elementary and middle school faculty members. The survey was on psychological changes in students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and conducted in 2022 from June 20 to July 22.

Among student respondents, 29 percent said that they suffered from depression, anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of them, 57 percent said they did not ask for help from people nearby despite these psychological difficulties.

The most common reason for not asking for help was that “the problem was not likely to be solved anyway,” given by 32 percent of student respondents. This was followed by students “(not feeling) the need to ask for help” and “(not being able) to find someone to talk to comfortably,” at 23 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Among those who did ask for help while experiencing difficulties, 80 percent asked for help from their parents and grandparents, followed by 43 percent who asked for help from friends.

Faculty members were asked about their observations of 18 psychological problems in students such as attendance issues; increased dissatisfaction and irritation; and decreased self-esteem. They were asked if students experiencing such problems during the COVID-19 period have increased.

About 95 percent of teachers said that the number of students with “lowered ability to concentrate” had increased. The next highest observed increases were "students who cannot control their emotions and impulses" and "students who are lethargic about learning," with 91.4 percent and 91 percent, respectively.

In addition, more than 80 percent of respondents said that “students who lack community spirit and consideration,” as well as “students who lack empathy” had increased – suggesting that more students faced difficulties forming relationships with others during the pandemic.

To manage students who are experiencing psychological difficulties, 56.2 percent of teachers said that they cooperated with professional counselors and 38.1 percent said they consulted with parents. However, 55.8 percent of teachers cited "non-cooperation of parents" as the most challenging factor in understanding or helping students.

"In order to solve students' psychological and emotional problems, parental or family cooperation is necessary, and we need to actively seek ways to strengthen peer relationships among students' social networks," the survey researchers said.

They recommended that education offices provide teachers with appropriate counseling training and methods, and that parents be educated as well.