The Breakthrough Voice 20th June, 2019

When Will Our Schools Start Talking About Children’s Mental Health?.

We are often seen discussing how an individual’s behaviours and pretty much the rest of their lives depend on how they have been brought up. However, there still seems to be absolutely no discussion about how a child’s mental health will definitely affect them when they grow up into adults – it could be a particularly negative experience with their parents, in their schools and in the systems they are surrounded with.

I remember back when I was in school, going to the school counsellor to talk about one’s problems and issues used to become such a hullaballoo because of how we were conditioned. This occurrence usually became something to gossip about, among the classmates as well as the teachers in their staff room.

As much as parents should be involved and take care of their children’s mental health, observe any changes and create a safe space for dialogue with them, it’s also necessary for schools to start working on and developing mental health curriculums that not only focus on creating a safe environment for the students but also make sure that they are aware of the existence of concepts like mental health, wellbeing and emotional intelligence.

Schools also tend to be a centre point for a lot of bullying, harassment, alienation, peer and academic pressure and getting subjected to all these pressures will affect the child sooner or later, and will also affect their overall behaviour. Schools introducing a mental health curriculum would help identify as well as reduce these very consequential triggers.

Schools tend to be a centre point for a lot of bullying, harassment, alienation, peer and academic pressure.

In a society like ours where mental health is not given enough importance and has a lot of stigmas attached to it, our education system and educators should be the primary source of making the children and parents aware. A small but impactful change in our curriculums was the introduction of the Happiness Curriculum in schools, a 45 minutes to one hour period which consists of meditation, value education and mental exercises, and a periodic assessment of the same is also done from time to time.

However, an initiative like this needs to be taken more seriously. In government-funded schools, the administration has included a Happiness Curriculum in the student’s timetable schedule, but no action has been taken to actually implement it. Most of the students are not aware of it, nor are the parents. Who’s answerable?  

The day we start having an open conversation about concerns like these is the day we will start creating a safe space for ourselves and our children, which is going to benefit them hugely. It will not only increase their academic performance but also strengthen their relationships with their peers and families and gain a basic understanding of toxic and problematic behaviours around them. It’s going to be a small start, but will surely leave a huge impact on children.

Also Read: Everyday Gender Biases In School And Life: A Personal Reflection

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