Covid 19 and the Psychosocial Adjustment of Secondary School Students: a Study of Selected Secondary Schools in Abuja
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Covid-19 virus outbreak created a lot of turbulence in the world which affected different sectors of nation’s economy. Not only did it impact nations but on the receiving end was it creating significant psychological and sociological changes in the lives of individuals and societies worldwide. This health emergency has critically impacted all segments of contemporary societies, including every level of the schooling system. The vital implementation of various social distancing measures has meant the partial or total closure of schools and a shift from regular face-to-face teaching to online teaching. This major alteration in instruction and learning practices has impacted the vast majority of educational institutions worldwide as well the psychosocial well-being of student.
Psychosocial well-being is a multidimensional construct consisting of psychological, social, and subjective components which influence the overall functionality of individuals in achieving their true potentials as members of the society. Psychosocial well-being incorporates the physical, economic, social, mental, emotional, cultural, and spiritual determinants of health. Well-being of an individual includes coping with the various stresses of everyday living and realization of the full potential of an individual as a productive member of the society. According to the East African Community (2019), “Psychosocial well-being involves developing cognitive and affective strengths among individuals, families and communities which creates overall positive social relationships among them.” This state of well-being motivates the development of life skills which enables individuals, families, or communities to understand and engage with their environment and make healthy relationships.
After temporary school closure for the pandemic 1.4 billion students worldwide have been impacted (UNESCO 2020). That closure physically disconnected students from their friends and their wider social network and appears to have a severe impact on their psychological health. This could have affected the sense of belongingness of students. School belongingness is defined as the extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others in the school social environment. It includes how youth feels about themselves as being important, valuable, and meaningful parts of their schools. Hence the pandemic compelled anxiety, fears, withdrawn to self among students in other not to be infected by the novel disease. The many more breaches in school activities as a result of the social distance and the inability of student to meaningfully interact with each other has impacted their mental and social well being thus require the need for families, school management and teachers to provide all the psychosocial support needed by student in order to adjust to these changes.
Psychosocial support addresses a person’s emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs all essential elements of positive human development. Psychosocial support builds internal and external resources for student to cope with adversity and changes in the school environment. It is necessary for the student adjustment as they resuming schooling after the Covid-19 lockdown. Psychosocial adjustment or adaptation refers to people’s capacity to adapt to the environment, which implies that the individual has sufficient mechanisms to feel good, integrate, respond adequately to the demands of the environment, and achieve his or her objectives (Madariaga et al., 2014).
However from the perspective of student mental health care and social well being, the importance of schools cannot be overemphasized. Schools play a unique role in ensuring a healthy and safe environment for their students. In this sense, it the schools responsibility to provide necessary support for the development of individual capacities and other personal qualities of students. This is because realization of potential is a basis for the productive and healthy life of any young person, and this is frequently stressed as a priority of modern education (Bezinović and Tkalčić, 2017). Therefore it is upon the premise that this study seeks to examine Covid-19 and the psychosocial adjustment of secondary school students
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Students in secondary and tertiary education settings are known to face a varied range of ongoing normative stressors associated with their ongoing academic demands. Secondary school student are vulnerable to psychosocial problems because of physical and physiological changes that occur in their body during this developmental stage as well as their social environment. Adolescents and high-school students seem to have been especially affected by these abrupt changes to daily life, predominantly due to school closures during pandemic. On the one hand, the usual structure of school activities and daily routines has been lost; including the multitude of experiences that normally occur through intensive social interactions with peers and authorities outside of family have become scarce. Due to features specific to their developmental stage, secondary school are probably the most sensitive to these various kinds of social deprivation. In addition, such threats might be even more intensely experienced by senior secondary students as this appears to be primarily due to the practical circumstances of living and studying during the so-called first COVID-19 wave, which led to uncertainties about completion of schooling, the timing and form of final graduation exams, and the prospects of gaining university admission for all individuals planning to continue into higher education. Other changes in the school environment capable of affecting their mental health is the anxiety and fear of being infected with the novel virus through hand shakes, hugging and other extra curricular activities that requires close contact. This disassociation from peers has continuously affected not their mental health but limit their interaction within the school vicinity.
Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of teachers and school management to focus students’ stressful experiences, gain insights into how they are coping with profoundly changes in living and learning circumstances as well provide all the support necessary for their psychosocial adjustment. This is because when they fail to do so this withdrawn connection can be damaging to their emotions as well result to low class participation and on the adverse poor performance in academic. This observation has necessitated the researcher to delve into the study and examine COVID 19 and the Psychosocial Adjustment Of Secondary School Students.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of the study is to examine Covid-19 and the Psychosocial Adjustment Of Secondary School Students. Specifically the study seek to:
- Investigatethe extent to which covid-19 affected the social interaction of secondary school students.
- Investigatethe extent to which covid-19 affected learning environment.
iii. Investigate the extent to which covid-19 affected the mental well-being of secondary school students.
- Identifythe extent to which covid-19 triggered anxiety in secondary school students.
- Investigate thedifferent mechanism adopted by the school to enable students adjust during the pandemic.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In order to meet the objective of the study, the following research questions were raised for the study
- To whatextent did covid-19 affected the social interaction of secondary school students?
- To whatextent did covid-19 affected learning environment?
iii. To what extent did covid-19 affected the mental well-being of secondary school students?
- To whatextent did covid-19 triggered anxiety in secondary school students?
- What are the mechanisms adopted by the school authority to enable students adjust during the pandemic?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The research is guided by the following tentative assumptions:
HO1: Covid-19 did not affect social interaction of secondary school student
HO2: Covid-19 did not affect learning environment of secondary schools.
HO3: Covid-19 did not affect the mental well-being of secondary school student.
HO4: Covid-19 did not trigger anxiety among secondary school students.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Findings from the study will be relevant to School administrators, class room teachers, school counsellors and curriculum stakeholders. To school management and teachers the study will enlighten them on the need to provide student with all the necessary support they require in other to adjust with the changes in school activities and rush of academic calenders as was the effect of the Covid-19. To the school counsellor, the findings of the study will reveal to them on the need to look out for students and give them pep-talk as well as therapy on ways to adjust both emotionally, psychologically, socially and academically to the many changes brought by Covid-19. Finally the study will contribute empirically to the body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to other student and scholars who wishes to conduct further studies on related field.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study borders on Covid-19 and the Psychosocial Adjustment Of Secondary School Students. The study painstakingly considers the impact of covid-19 on social interaction of student, the changes that the pandemic brought to their learning environment and academic activities. The study considers the psychological effect of the pandemic as to extent it impacted their mental well being and the anxiety accompanied afterwards. The study is however delimited selected secondary schools in Port-Harcourt in River State Nigeria.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The major limitation of this study is related to the fact that the findings only reflect secondary school students in Abuja and the challenges they had in coping both psychologically and mentally with the changes brought by the pandemic, as such, the result may not picture the exact situation in other levels of education across the State in Nigeria as a whole.
Additionally, there was the element of respondents bias. Here, the respondent sampled for the study which include school administrators, teachers and few students from the senior classes possessed some biases to as they might not have sufficiently provide accurate information on the subject hence this might duly affect the 100% accuracy of the research as interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed even as the researcher put in the best to ensure the success of the project.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Psychological well being: Psychological well-being consists of positive relationships with others, personal mastery, autonomy, a feeling of purpose and meaning in life, and personal growth and development. Psychological well-being is attained by achieving a state of balance affected by both challenging and rewarding life events
Mental Well being : Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Social Interaction: Social interaction is the process of reciprocal influence exercised by individuals over one another during social encounters. It is an exchange between two person who mutually wishes to relate with other
Learning Environment: Learning environment can refer to an educational approach, cultural context, or physical setting in which teaching and learning occur.
Psychosocial Support: Psychosocial support involved a range of care and intervention as given to an individual in other in other to help them regain the social, emotional, and psychological well being. It helps individuals and communities to heal the psychological wounds and rebuild social structures after an emergency or a critical event. It can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims.
Psychosocial Adjustment: Psychosocial adjustment is defined as the process of putting oneself in harmony with the changing circumstances of life so as to enhance one’s sense of well-being and long- term survivor.