Promotion of mental health education in schools

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OPINION

By: Dr Rohi

Mental health needs a lot of attention. This is the last taboo and it must be faced and dealt with ‘Adam Ant

Mental health is a state of well-being where people can achieve their learning potential, cope with normal stress, and are connected to the community as well as to their friends. Mental health is about the health of the mind and works the same way that real well-being is about the health of one’s physical organs and how they work.

For most people, mental health issues start when they are young. Half of all mental disorders appear by age 14 and three-quarters by age 25 – the same period when most people go to school. The transmission of education from schools plays an important role in the development of children and adolescents and provides space and scope for interventions at all levels of schooling. Besides academic learning, schools provide a child with the opportunity to interact with each other, learn social skills, and build their first relationships outside of the family. Children come to school from different households, backgrounds and financial abilities. The stress of home life can spill over into their school life and create a toxic environment. This will harm the child’s ability to do well in school.

Mental health problems are not limited to the burden of studies. Bullying, societal influence, relationships with classmates, or concerns about growth, appearance, inferiority complex, etc. can also disturb the mental well-being of children in addition to unfortunate events, accidents, calamities, etc. that leave a deep impact on the mind. According to the WHO, almost 20% of children and adolescents suffer from a debilitating mental illness worldwide. Studies in India indicate that around 10-15% of young people aged 16 and under suffer from a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Mental health education is therefore a compulsory aspect of all schools. Teachers and administrators can work to educate students. Key elements to highlight include the concept of self-care and responsibility for one’s own mental health and well-being, emphasizing that mental health is an integral part of health.

Teachers and students should have ways to recognize signs of developing mental health issues and there should be opportunities around raising awareness and dealing with mental health crises, including the risk of self-harm, addictions, behavioral problems, etc. Activities and interventions should be designed to reinforce protective factors and minimize risk factors. Today, psychologists have become a crucial part of the education system. Every school should have a well-trained psychologist, a counselor who may be able to spot the early signs of any behavioral or disruptive tendencies. Children with these kinds of issues need to respond with empathy, appropriateness, and kindness. There needs to be an environment full of communication and support rather than punishment. All schools should have mental health training and address mental health and well-being through behavior policy, program design, care and support, and parental engagement. The government should include psychology in the children’s curriculum, which can help them personify their personality.

Let the child free himself from the shackles of mental blocks and let his imagination take its course.

The author holds a doctorate in psychology and can be contacted at[email protected]


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