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Mental Health Curriculum in Schools: Need of the Hour

Mental Health, Psychological, Well being

Physical Health.. ‘Let’s visit the doctor right away’, ‘this doctor is the best in town’, etc etc etc… Mental Health, ‘Shhhh’, ‘shhhhhh’, ‘shhhhhhh’ and ‘shhhhhh’. Does this response seem familiar?

Did you know, you have Mental Health too???

In fact, we all have mental health, the way we have physical health.

Wondering what is mental health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

We all try and take care of our physical health by eating healthy food, drinking sufficient amount of water, sleeping well, exercising well, and the list goes on. We ensure to take good care of the physical health of our little ones too.

Do we ensure to take care of our mental health and the mental health of our little ones?

If yes, then why is the suicidal death rate so high?

As per the WHO, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst the 15-29 year olds globally.

Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan.

Some recent news :

Not able to get enough ‘likes’ on TikTok, Noida teenager commits suicide

Unable To Join Online Classes, Kerala Schoolgirl Commits Suicide lockdown-commits-suicide-2239318

Class 9 Student Allegedly Commits Suicide In Kota 2020-285649/

and so many more…….

Do you think these are alarming?

Do you think the situation so grave for the children to take such drastic steps?

I’m sure most of us will agree that these situations are not grave enough. This is our perspective.

Is our child’s perspective important to us ? Have we thought about the child’s perspective? Do we know the child’s perspective? Can we really reach out to our children? Are our children comfortable talking to us about situations, which bother them? Are we able to give them the answers that they are seeking? Are we ready to seek professional help for our children , if required?

The list of questions to introspect the perspective of our children can go on and on and on…

Is there a solution that is safe for the child, that makes the child accepted and respected, that helps the child to handle emotions better and also that helps the child with enhancing his/ her problem solving skills?

I feel the solution is Mental Health Curriculum.

Mental Health Curriculum is a program that could be run by the schools with th help of school counsellors, for the children, as young as Kindergarten upto the level the child is in the school. This program can be an age appropriate progressive one which can address various situations the child encounters and finds it difficult to handle. For eg: – bullying, body image issues, peer pressure, loss of a loved one, etc.

In earlier days, the children would benefit from a joint family set up. Now with the changed family dynamics where it is mostly nuclear family set ups, the children are not able to get or learn the same values like sharing, caring, responsibility taking, security, giving space to each other, problem solving skills, learning through observations, etc.

In this busy world where both the parents are working, we are not able to give our children enough quality time. We tend to compensate this by giving them more materialistic things. Eg: expensive gadgets, gizmos like phone, tablets, ps4, etc. The communication channels eventually seem to drop down or get too controlling.

There is need to have a resource or space for the child to feel heard. A space where the child feels safe, respected and that is non-judgmental. Many a times if the child is able to share his/her feelings without feeling judged, half of the problem seems solved.

There is a need for values of empathy, kindness, acceptance, respect, etc to be imbibed in a social setting, so that each child feels safe to share their feelings and emotions.

There is a need to help reduce the taboo for mental health, which will reduce the stigma to reach out or seek professional help in time.

Hence there is a need to provide a platform for the child to channelize his/her emotions and enhance the problem solving skills to deal with any situation that they come across and have a better perspective. “If we can help students understand their mental health, we can help prevent them from getting to the place where they make a permanent decision to end a temporary situation” –

Ms. Moushumi Gupte,

Teaching Faculty – Junior School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School

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