The Importance of Mental Health Awareness in Schools
Mental health is equally important, if not more important than physical health. It is absolutely integral to living a healthy, balanced life. Mental health is commonly associated with only mental disorders and serious illnesses, but in reality it is a general term that encompasses our psychological, emotional and social well-being. This means that it impacts how we think, feel and act every single day and therefore contributes to our decision making process and eventually how we lead our lives.
Recent events of a now four-month nationwide lockdown has given birth to a rise in issues of depression, domestic violence, loneliness and suicide cases globally. In fact, a WHO survey revealed that in India in 2015/2016, nearly 15% of adults needed some form of mental health intervention, and one in 20 adults suffered from depression. These numbers have definitely risen in 2020 amidst the lockdown, and in fact, suicide is the cause for 300 lockdown deaths in India as of May 2020.
It is commonly known that energy (negative as well as positive) passes on from adults to children in a household. If children are constantly around negative energies, fighting adults and negative emotions, then subconsciously that passes down to the child and just because the child cannot express how they are feeling, it doesn’t mean that it will not affect the child’s mood, curiosity to learn and overall happiness. Children that grow up in relatively unhappier households where there are frequent stresses, tend to cry more, throw more tantrums, and easily get more insecure and uninterested in play or fun activities than children that are around happy and joyful parents and a more positive atmosphere. This shows that mental health is important not only in adults, but also in children and especially the tiniest ones who are least able to express themselves! This calls for a major need for mental health education and awareness that must begin right from the preschool years.
The importance of mental health awareness in schools is therefore immense. Schools are supposed to be helping younger generations to be able to adapt to a constantly changing world. Most schools today teach physical health, nutrition as well as sex education. However, there is a gap when it comes to teaching and educating children on the importance of mental health. Without mental health education, children will be unable to express themselves and how they are feeling and will therefore not know how to approach a problem. They will be unable to ask for help, and similarly they will be unable to help their peers and those that need help. It is therefore important to treat mental health with as much importance as schools treat physical education.
Children must be taught about the importance of positivity, gratitude, meditation, kindness, and about mental health illnesses and how to approach these issues along with the stigmas around it. This will lead to not only a knowledgeable and smart generation of learners that schools tend to focus on, but also a generation that is happy, knows how to deal with life’s obstacles and stresses and knows how to help those around them to ensure others are happy. If we as educators globally don’t focus on such issues, then there is a possibility of a mental health pandemic, which will have consequences that are much more far-reaching than the current pandemic that we are facing.