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Health Research Assignment: Psychological Wellbeing of International Students in Australia

Question

Task: You are required to write an individual critical reflective report on health research assignment of your experience defining a research problem and a research question for your Research Plan on the topic “What factors cause anxiety and stress among international students in Australia due to travel restriction during Covid-19”.

Answer

Introduction
After 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has become a global emergency, which is the main concern of this health research assignment. This leads to a great impact on the education system throughout the world. In 2019, around 738,107 international students enrolled themselves to pursue their academic pursuits in Australia which was 10% higher than the previous yearhowever, the number has drastically declined to 17 per cent less enrolments post 2020 and continuing (Stormon,et al., 2019). According to Dovchin, (2020), international students of Australia are comparatively experiencing more stress, depression and anxiety than any other domestic students of Australia. International students usually stay within the campus of the college and university but due to pandemic situation, most of the students are forced to leave the campus which further pushed them to various challenges like non availability of accommodations outside the campus.

Restrictions on International flights also prohibited students from foreign countries to return to their homeland.

Research question:
What are the factors that causes anxiety and stress among international students in Australia due to COVID 19 travel restrictions?

Research problem:
It is essential for a researcher to follow all the guidelines during collecting data from secondary sources. During secondary data collection, I had to consider every aspect of the research and consider all the reliable sources like articles, eBooks and government websites to ensure all the data is relatable and reliable. In the case of secondary data collection, almost 10% of the articles are not accessible because of patent issues and the rest of them are not relatable to my research work.

Factors cause anxiety and stress among international students in Australia due to travel restrictions during Covid
Every year a huge number of international students come for higher education in Australia, and many of them suffer from stress and anxiety due to racism and excessive academic commitments. However, this scenario changed due to the pandemic situation which led to a great impact on international students' mental wellbeing. In this study secondary data collection like eBooks, articles that are related to factors that cause anxiety and stress among international students in Australia are studied. According to Nguyen and Balakrishnan, (2020), secondary data collection is extensive hard work because it is important to use reliable and relevant data from eBooks, articles, government and news reports related to the topic. As stated by Dos Santos, (2021), in 2020 almost 17% of international students reported PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder due to the death of family and friends, physical distance from friends, away from their country because of closed boarders and lack of international flights. As I found from secondary data collection PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder causes psychological stress and anxiety among the students which leads to depression. The stringent restrictions in Australia and rest parts of the world pushed overseas students in utter confusion and dilemma about their future endeavors in terms of Higher Education in Australia.

The mental stress of international students
According to Stormont et al., (2019), international students started remote learning from their own country to look after their parents but due to geographical time differences international students dealt with both physical and mental health challenges. Sleeping disorders, eating disorders are commonly found in international students during their remote learning from their own country. Long exposure to electronic devices like computers and smart phones laid physical stress which further only added negatively towards wellbeing of students.This not onlydeteriorated academic scores but also made onlinelearning experience unpleasant. Furthermore, international students had to experience economic crisis for the stretched pandemic situations. Acceptability as an overseas students became more challengingwherebullying and harassment from their neighborhood have been found obvious in Australia. Almost 28% of international students in Australia were Chinese and post December 2019 these Chinese students had to face racism and discrimination among their friends, university mates, campus mates and even on road strangers manhandled them (Dos Santos, 2021). As a result, many Chinese students preferred to continue their academic sessions through online or through remote learning from their own country. Further when these native Chinese students tried to resume their studies after COVID 19 relaxation they have been denied for re-entry to Australia because of border restrictions. In 2021, 17% of enrolment of international students in Australia decreased from 2020 because of international travel restrictions across the world. International students are mostly unaware of their mental health and do not have enough time to search for reliable support, as a result most of these students reported with untreated mental illness condition.

Physical safety of international students:
International students leave their country and home to pursue higher education from Australia. According to Stormont et al., (2019), every year 257,198 students enrolled themselves to pursue their degree from Australia but 50% of them reported being harassed or bullied in public transport, road and even on campus. However, these international students are unable to take steps against these physical threats because of language barriers. These physical threats directly hammered the mental health of international students. As per my opinion, this kind of bullying and physical assault could be decreased by the Australian government by imposing several acts against racism.

Social isolation and loneliness:
After the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a travel restriction on boarders as well as the number of international flights decreased. As a result of it, international students of Australia were unable to reach their country and the death of family and friends also impacted on the mental wellbeing of the students. Sudden lockdown left these international students in an economic crisis and due to social distancing, international students experienced huge loneliness as they were unable to reach their homes. Before COVID 19 international students felt isolated in Australia due to cultural and language differences but post COVID 19 the social distancing to reduce COVID 19 exposure eventually increased the isolation of international students in Australia. According to Khoshlessan and Das, (2019), 12% of international students cut off all their social relationships to ensure their physical safety from harassment and bullying by domestic students of Australia and neighbors.

Stress-related to the economic crisis:
Economic crisis is one of the greatest challenges that the whole world faces after the outrage of COVID- 19. Many of the international students work as part time workers to maintain the cost of living in Australia. Although in my opinion, this part- time paid work is challenging for international students because they have to work for long hours along with their academic pressure and commitments. However, after the uncertain period of lockdown international students had to face an immense economic crisis because there was no or little scope for part time work and had to maintain daily needs which again contributed towards mental stress like anxiety and confusion.

Lack of awareness of mental wellbeing:
International students usually face mental illness for racism, bullying and being away from home and country. However, due to tremendous academic pressure, they do not seek consultation and are unaware to recognize their problem and as a result of it every year 13% of international students reported severe PTSD (Dovchin, 2020). International students are also unaware of the OSHC or Overseas Students Health Cover which covers all the health and mental health issues international students face out of the country.

The stigma associated with mental illness:
According to Khoshlessan and Das, (2019), 13% of international students in Australia are afraid to accept their mental illness because of the social stigma associated with mental illness. As I found from secondary data collection, PTSD or other mental disorders also have physical symptoms like sweating, increased heart rate, sleeping disorder, hallucination, feeling sick. Anger, guilt, depression and anxiety are very common in mental disorders but after recognizing this event of mental illness international students refuse to take help from health care providers because of the perception that they would not be considered medically fit human being prevents them to talk about their illness amongst friends and colleagues. It would also hamper their academic scores. Even uncertainty in prolonged flight restrictions aggravatedthe situation as they were unable to see friends and families for a long period of time.

Academic pressure and academic score:
The whole world is facing a financial and educational crisis due to the COVID 19 outbreak in December 2019. Distance education among students and teachers changed the teaching and learning relationship to a great deal triggering isolation and self-reliance of students to carry out the academic goals have increased the pressure among international students to manifold. Thus, international students have been trapped at home leading to which fear of contagion, boredom and frustration affected mental health of international students to a great extent.Due to internet connection and environmental factors, students lack interest in their learning which directly affects their academic scores (Rahman et al., 2020).

Learning experience on personal, social and cultural context:
As I experienced from this study that, it is important to understand that mental health is yet another disease which needs compassion and treatment just like other diseases. It should not be left untreated which may cause a permanent damage to students of any age. Sometimes many of the international students claim that they hallucinate any bad incident like bullying, racism, physical and mental harassment in public transport, public places and even by other international students within the campus (Rahman et al., 2020). I referred various articles on anxiety and stress indicatedsymptoms like agitation, anger, perspiration, increased heart rate, fatigue, insomnia, sleeping disorders along with eating disorderssignals mental ill health. Due to travel restrictions on international students of Australia,students have been forced to stay off campus for an uncertain period of time lead to various difficulties. They have not been able to leave the country because of sudden outbreak of Corona virus and restrictions have been imposed to control the spread of disease international student have been pushed to immense pressure.

International students have been forced to stay alone and the fear to get contagious of the virus grasped their mental steadiness to a great deal. It is an alarming time for the education department of Australia as well as the university authority to take care of these international students by starting activities which promote socializing and talking to people of the same country of origin through online community meets, physical interaction keeping in mind standard protocols to prevent the spread through social distancing, use of masks and sanitization, once in a fortnight or in a month would definitely improve the mental health of an overseas student staying in Australia.

There are several culturalas well as social challenges that an international student facesduring the pandemic situation in Australia which led to anxiety, depression and loneliness among these students because of cross culture adjustments and identity crisis for staying in a country away from their family and friends. Cultural shock is very distressing and affected the academic journey of an overseas students to a great extentand to resolve this Australian Government launched Racial Discrimination Act in 2012, that protects international students of Australia fordiscrimination on the basis of their skin color, race and national origin (Nguyenand Balakrishnan,2020). Further, Australian Government has taken various social activities for eradicating racism by introducing anti-racism campaign with the help of educators and university staffs across the country.

Conclusion
Post COVID 19 outbreak enrolments of international students in Australian universities have reduced to a significant number. Even the rate to drop out increased than that of enrolments in Australia have a severe impact on economy of the country. Australia generated a large number of revenues from the international students. Restrictions on international travels and students from other countries although increased the chances of spread of infection but hindered the economy of Australia too. Moreover, the mental health of international students shoots a huge concern which immediately needs to be addressed. As I analyzed from this study, international students need to be accepted more than domestic students to maintain the reputation of the country also to speed up the revenue earnedbecomes inevitable. Acceptance of international students, their diversity in terms of varied languages, cultures, religions should be encouraged which wouldimprove the situation on racism is of utmost importance. Even the teachers and faculties play an important role by recognizing students' mental health and helping them through compassion, chalking out policies and strategies to deal with mental health issues more efficiently should be addressed more effectively.?

References
Dos Santos, L.M., 2021. Motivations and Career Decisions in Occupational Therapy Course: A Qualitative Inquiry of Asia-Pacific International Students in Australia. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 12, p.825.

Dovchin, S., 2020. The psychological damages of linguistic racism and international students in Australia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 23(7), pp.804-818.

Khoshlessan, R. and Das, K.P., 2019. Analyzing international students’ study anxiety in higher education. Health research assignmentJournal of International Students, 7(2), pp.311-339.

Nguyen, O.O.T.K. and Balakrishnan, V.D., 2020. International students in Australia–during and after COVID-19. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(7), pp.1372-1376.

O’Sullivan, D., Rahamathulla, M. and Pawar, M., 2020. The impact and implications of COVID-19: An Australian perspective. The International Journal of Community and Social Development, 2(2), pp.134-151.

Rahman, M.A., Hoque, N., Alif, S.M., Salehin, M., Islam, S.M.S., Banik, B., Sharif, A., Nazim, N.B., Sultana, F. and Cross, W., 2020. Factors associated with psychological distress, fear and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Globalization and Health, 16(1), pp.1-15.

Stormon, N., Ford, P.J., Kisely, S., Bartle, E. and Eley, D.S., 2019. Depression, anxiety and stress in a cohort of Australian dentistry students. European Journal of Dental Education, 23(4), pp.507-514.

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