The onset of COVID-19 has created a sense of distress and frustration for everyone. Yet, it affects different groups of people unequally.
We spoke to Narash, Impart's strategic advisor, about some of the struggles some youth have been facing. Swipe to learn more about how others in Singapore are affected by Circuit Breaker. These can be broadly classified into three categories:
COVID-19 has disrupted many of our usual daily routines, and it’s particularly challenging for many of us to find a good rhythm / structure. This is particularly challenging for youths who struggle with mental illnesses, who may find it challenging to develop good coping mechanisms, Those with known conditions are finding it hard to cope with the sudden changes in the routines and lack of structure.
A few seem to be in a self-destruction mode whereby despite knowing it’s unsafe to be out or illegal even. Because others have often labelled them as ‘deviants’, this internalisation of the label has helped to encourage further self-destructive behaviour, such as disregarding the danger of the pandemic. Some continue to evade the police and hang out with their friends outside.
Disruptions to daily life
School closures and/or their current living conditions can be adverse and anxiety provoking. Many people have complained about “Zoom fatigue” and restlessness because most meetings are held online. Youths also find it difficult to learn and connect with others through online platforms. They may feel easily distracted, and find it harder to stay focused when doing home-based learning.
In this time, maintaining genuine online interactions with our friends and loved ones can be a real challenge. Youths may be more familiar with social media platforms: but like many of us, some struggle with loneliness from being separated from their peers and best friends.
With the sudden lack of structure and the disruption to usual routines, there has been a rise in screen-time addiction or substance abuse. Some youths have begun to form new addictions and some have relapsed into old ones.
Relationships with friends and family
Before this crisis, some youths already experience an environment of invalidation at home, where parents can be verbally or physically abusive. In such an environment for a prolonged time, youths may have a higher risk of self-harm or even suicide.
Some youths serve as caregivers to their younger siblings when their parents go out for work. In these stressful times, they may experience caregiver burnout from the need to care for their siblings.
Many youths come from lower-income families with unstable incomes, and some families have faced job loss. In this uncertain economic climate, some may face anxiety over making ends meet.
Examples of how COVID-19 has affected some of the youth we know
Difficulties Transitioning to Home-Based Learning
For some, Home Based Learning is frustrating because it means being stuck within the same four walls again. But for others, it means having their education taken away almost entirely.
One such youth did not have access to a laptop at home, resorting to attending classes and completing assignments through his mobile phone. It wasn’t long before he felt he was falling too far behind and struggling to keep up with the new normal.
Since connecting with us, Impart has managed to source a laptop for him. Equipped with better tools, his performance in school has made significant strides. He has even taken up regular tuition sessions with Impart to support his weaker subjects.
In May, a youth was kicked out of his house. The parent wanted the space to be with a partner.
“Get out! Just get out! Go die also I don’t care!”
Faced with nowhere to go, H sought to stay with friends but it was not possible. Our case worker had no choice but to bring the youth back to the other parent’s house. However, this parent had physically abused H while he was growing up and the two had not seen each other for a long time, resulting in H experiencing low moods and anxiety.
With the closure of schools and the freedom restrictions, H felt cooped up and distressed in the one-room flat. Fortunately, organizations came to support him with groceries, a laptop for home-based learning, a mobile phone and even shoes. H has also been journeying with two volunteers from SYNC, one of Impart's sister organisations, who have been supporting him emotionally and teaching him healthy coping skills. The support and care he received has fortunately helped him be able to look ahead with hope.
Starting New Projects
COVID-19 has caused disruptions to lives across the world, including youths in Singapore. One youth who struggled with drug addiction under the influence of her peers. Seeking help from a mentor she met during an incare phase, she was referred to a social service agency which helped her cope with the addiction. She did well under the programme, followed a new routine and did well in school.
But when Covid struck, so did boredom. Soon her sleep-wake cycles were reversed and she struggled to focus during HBL. She decided to try new projects such as jewellery making and sewing masks to keep herself occupied. True enough, she managed to readjust her body clock in time to return to school. She was ecstatic to return to school and has continued to keep up with her newfound routine!