When it comes to life in a post-Covid era, what university students in Bangladesh worry about most is their future job prospects. This is what is taking a toll on their mental health.

This inference can be drawn from a study conducted by Md Jamal Uddin, a teacher of the statistics faculty of Shajalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), and his three students -- Upama Chowdhury, Md Ahosan Habib Suvro and Syed Md Farhan.

The study was conducted from October 2020 to February 2021 through an online survey at 62 universities across the country. Respondents were asked if they were really worried about getting a job in the future and whether that was taking a toll on their mental health.

A total of 516 students participated in the survey, the results of which have been published in an international journal.

According to the study, 80 percent of the respondents reported having depression and 70 percent complained of stress. Of them, female students seemed to be the most depressed ones as compared to their male peers.

Among 516 participants, 380 (73.6%) were males and 136 (26.4%) females. While 414 (80.2%) participants had mild to severe depression, 399 (77.3%) reported having low to moderately perceived stress.

Female students were 2.1 (95%) times more depressed and 3.6 (95%) times more stressed than their male counterparts, according to the study.

Students, who thought that delaying graduation due to the Covid-19 pandemic would reduce their chances of getting a job, were 1.72 (95%) times more depressed.

Respondents, whose department offered internships were 36 percent less depressed, while skilled students were 46 percent less stressed though it was not statistically significant, the study pointed out.

The study also suggested that universities can provide mental health programmes and strive to have enough space for students to participate in internships.

In addition, the government and educational institutions should work together to address this growing challenge of mental health risk, according to the authors.

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