Wednesday 19 May 2021

Promoting positive mental health in schools

Ritisha shares her views on how schools can promote positive mental health amongst students.

- Ritisha Roy

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” -Glenn Close. 

A school is not only a place where you go to learn new things but is actually like a huge family that supports and cherishes a positive attitude and mental health. Students should be free to express their feelings, opinions and not be afraid to be themselves. Yet many students suffer from mental health issues. They can feel afraid and unable to express the pressure they are going through. 

Mental health is the capacity of every one of us to think, feel and act in ways that help us to enjoy life and deal with its adversities and challenges. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being. In the present-day, it has been seen that teenagers can feel constant pressure to give exceptional performances in all fields. They can feel demoralized and down when they fail and are unable to accept their defeat. This can lead to loss of hope when faced with the challenges and hardships of life.

One of the main factors which can lead to mental disorders in students is a lack of social interaction, which has become an increasing problem during the corona crisis. Due to this dire situation, students find themselves more and more online. However, it can have some adverse effects on them. The world of social media has been rapidly developing and has been gaining a lot of popularity, especially amongst young people. Social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter etc. serve as great platforms for virtual communication but can also create feelings of inadequacy as young people compare themselves and their lives to those of their peers. These social sites can serve as a platform of cyber-bulling- social harassment, leakage of private information, threats etc. This not only creates feelings of insecurity among teenagers but can also lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems, making it a serious public health concern. 

Psychologists say that banning the use of media is not the answer to this issue, instead awareness about such issues should be taken up in schools through workshops. Schools should take initiative to teach students the cyber code of conduct, how to use technology in a responsible manner and how to be mindful that other people may be using it in a dangerous manner. 

A major problem which young people are also no strangers to, is the feeling of confusion. It can be easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed when confused and don’t want to share about it with others. But we often forget that being confused is absolutely fine. In fact, it is the very first step to finding the answer. Students should be encouraged to share their insecurities and discomforts freely with their parents and teachers. 

Examinophobia, or the fear of exams, is one of the biggest contributors to stress and anxiety amongst students. It is very common, especially when an important examination is at their doorstep. It can have really negative emotional and psychological effects. Students usually feel this pressure because they fear failing or disappointing themselves and their loved ones. But students should realize that, “success introduces you to the world, but failure introduces the world to you.” Schools should motivate students that getting poor grades is just a bend in life, not the end of life. “Pursue passion and success will come chasing after you.” 

Books and films are one of the greatest inspirations to young people. Schools and teachers can use books and movies to create awareness about such issues regarding mental health. The ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series is about a young boy, Percy, who has ADHD and dyslexia. He is often abused by his stepfather and his classmates. Neurological disorders such as ADHD can often be mistaken as mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression because of the similarity of some symptoms. However, they can also lead to mental health issues because of how isolating it can be to live within a neurotypical society. Making Percy and his friends have ADHD and dyslexia was the author’s way of representing the equality of potential of all those children who have neurological conditions and gives a voice to marginalised people. Being different isn’t bad, it is the opportunity to succeed in the world in a new way. That’s what Percy discovers about himself in the Lightening Thief. 

Mental health of an individual plays a crucial role in one’s life. It provides a positive attitude towards life and helps us to face the adversities and challenges which lie on the path. Thus, the most important function of school and education is to safeguard the mental health of every student. Creating awareness about these issues will promote a feeling of self-confidence and belief amongst students, therefore helping to create a better future generation! It has been rightly said, “The problem shared, is the problem solved”. 

You can visit Student Space to explore online resources, access direct support via text, phone, web chat or email and find the support available at your place of study

I am Ritisha Roy, I study in India in Amity International school. I love writing because I feel I can express myself better through writing. I feel all my anxiety and worries wash away from me when I write. 

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