Why Schools Should Encourage Conversations Around Mental Health

school and mental health
School and mental health. (Representative Image)

Even in 2021, we only hear whispers of conversations around mental health. The majority of people still treat mental health issues with content and judgement. 1 out of 4 people suffers from mental health issues, yet our society’s behaviour towards them inhibits them from getting the help they need. Our ignorance only makes them suffer more in silence.

According to the UK Mental Health Department research, half of the lifelong mental health issues can develop by age 14.

Understanding Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are medical illnesses, just like any physical health problem. They could be biological, genetic, or caused by surroundings or lifestyles. Mental health problems, if given the proper treatment, can be cured just like any other disease. As a society, we can make safe spaces for people to come out and talk about their problems. To raise awareness so that nobody has to suffer in ignorance.

Mental Health and Schools

Topics such as hygiene, cleanliness, punctuation and discipline are taught to children from the very beginning of schooling. Schools are where children gain knowledge and learn almost everything they know. However, one topic that we still don’t talk about is mental health.

It is in schools that children form new relations, learn from other kids and grow their personalities. On the other hand, teenagers face various issues such as bullying, peer pressure and even low self-esteem. Without the proper guidance, it is effortless to lose direction and control over your life. Therefore, schools must educate children about their mental health with the help of licensed professionals, teachers, parents, and students.

Here are the reasons why schools should encourage discussions about Mental Health

To raise awareness

This is the primary goal of Mental Health education. Most people in India either look down upon mental health issues, calling them names or have no idea about them. It is vital to teaching children about self-care and good mental health. Many children suffer from anxiety without understanding that it is a problem that can be treated and not something they have to live with. Awareness against stigmatisation is our best bet.

Teach parents and friends how to recognise mental health issues

People with mental health problems, if left untreated, can become a threat to their safety. It can disturb a child’s growth, education and learning abilities. Unfortunately, many parents in India do not recognise the signs of mental health problems in their children. When a child starts failing in class or underperforming, they are immediately labelled as lazy or stupid or dumb. Instead of using such harsh words and expressions, parents should be taught compassion and patience. Schools should teach both parents and students to take care of each other, recognise the signs of mental health problems and equip them with ways to help each other out.

Knowledge about mental health can save lives

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between 10-24. The pressure in today’s society is excruciating. Teenagers have to score exceptionally well to get into the college of their choice. The entrance for IITs and NEET puts immense pressure on students to perform well and achieve top scores to find government colleges. This leads to enormous amounts of stress at young ages, and children often turn towards self-harm. The fear of disappointing their parents or society’s judgment pushes them off the edge. If parents are taught about mental health, such situations can be avoided. Children will know they are loved no matter what college they get into. They will be allowed to choose their paths and to keep their emotional well-being above everything else.

Mental health education has a positive impact on society. It will help people find the proper care and to be self-sufficient. In addition, it will eliminate old stigmas and benefit the community as a whole.