Online class 'stressing students out'
Restrictions to social interaction to blame
A survey carried out by the Department of Mental Health found that almost one-third of students in Thailand are experiencing more anxiety and stress after Covid-19 prompted the switch to online learning.
The Mental Health Check-In survey -- conducted between Sept 19-25 among 2,045 students -- found that over 29% of survey respondents reported more anxiety and stress since their classes were moved online, while around 17% felt they are mentally-exhausted or have "burned out".
The survey noted that young students are three times more likely to experience anxiety than adults.
DMH director-general, Amporn Benjaponpitak, said the pandemic has been hard on children's mental health, with so much of their time spent focusing on online classes.
Most mental health issues can be traced back to constraints on the children's social lives, as schools have been closed since April, which meant their interactions are limited to online classes, she said.
So, to allow students to return to classes in November, the government has come up with the Sandbox Safety Zone, and is encouraging parents to allow their children to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
However, some parents are still afraid of the vaccines' side-effects on their children.
Dr Amporn said parents should talk with their children about the issue, as only those who have been vaccinated will be allowed to return to school.
"Studying in school may reduce their stress," she said.
"That said, we shouldn't discriminate against unvaccinated children, because ultimately, it is their choice," she added.
Dr Amporn advised children and adolescents who are suffering from anxiety and stress during the pandemic to seek help by calling DMH's 1323 hotline, or via Facebook through the helpline1323 page.
As of Wednesday, 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered to students across 15 provinces, according to Suphat Champatong, permanent secretary of the Education Ministry.
In total, 3.77 million students have registered for a shot -- equivalent to 74.4% of 5.07 million students across Thailand, he said.
According to the ministry's figures, the rate of vaccination requests among students stands at 74.79% in the North, 69.2% in the Northeast, 78.6% in the East, 73.8% in the West, 77.6% in the Central Plains and 76.7% in the South, Mr Suphat said
According to the ministry, the figures are expected to reach 80% across the nation in a few days.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong said the ministry will work with the Public Health Ministry and other state agencies to procure and administer more vaccines to teachers.
The goal is at least 85% of a school's staff must be vaccinated against Covid-19 before a school is allowed to re-open to students.
Starting this month, the communicable diseases committee in each province will begin evaluating the readiness of schools in their area before in-person classes can start next month, Ms Treenuch assured.