The stories of depression among Bangladesh's youths usually go ignored. However, in every part of our society, we experience the horrific outcome of this social crisis. As a researcher, I have seen how depression kills the creativity, talent and potentials of our youth. It is also true that their depression is created not by themselves but by the society they live in. According to many Bangladeshi young adults from different districts and from different socio-economic background, the reason behind their frustration is the inconsiderate family members who always want to impose their decisions on their young minds.
Munni (not her real name), a 3rd year student from Khulna University says, “I liked to dance when I was a child. I loved cycling and performing on-stage. However, all of a sudden, when I was a teenager, I was prohibited from doing all the things I wanted to do as my family and my society did not want me to.”
“One day I will also become a mother. I will always tell my children to be free, to do whatever they want to do and to be whoever they want to be,” adds Munni. In a male dominated society, it is not uncommon that young women are more vulnerable to the negative impacts of frustration as they are restricted from doing many activities that their male counterparts can do.
Nonetheless, young men in Bangladesh are also victims of frustration and they also blame society for their premature distaste towards life. Md Masud, a student of Dhaka University blames the divided education system and discriminatory employment system for the crisis. “I studied in a Madrassa and excelled in Islamic laws, English, Bengali and Arabic languages. However, I was weak in Mathematics and for this reason I failed to pass admission exams. After years of hard work finally I managed to get enrolled in Dhaka University.”
“However my research work which I had worked hard on for years, on Islamic laws and Arabic had proved to be useless in the job market. And with students from other streams, I am now forced to memorise general knowledge and practice arithmetic to get jobs,” he adds.
Masud's arguments are echoed by millions of youth in Bangladesh who are unemployed or underemployed. Even if many of the employed youths can apply their hard earned knowledge to the betterment of the society, the society fails to give them that scope and space.
According to Shamima Sultana, Psychosocial Counselor at BRAC, “Young minds are sophisticated. When their thoughts and beliefs start to shape up during their early age, they particularly need the mental support from their loved ones.”
We cannot remove all the limitations and negative aspects of Bangladesh in a day. However, it is the families who can play the lead role in nurturing the young minds in a way so that they learn to adapt with the existing limitations. If we can train our youths to adapt, they will find ways to thrive by utilising the limited opportunities to their best efforts.
The writer is an Atlas Corps fellow and founder of Physically Challenged Development Foundation.