What schools can do to support students’ mental health
Given the overall lack of importance given to mental health issues in schools, and the general stigma regarding mental health illnesses in our society, students often opt to suffer alone and not seek help.
A recent statistic by Aachol Foundation shows how serious the consequences can be. From January to August this year alone, 364 students took their own lives. A staggering 314 of them are students from schools, colleges or madrasas. The issues were most commonly found to stem from relationship trauma, family issues, and implications of false accusations.
This re-emphasises a dire need for change. It is high time our schools took a central role in supporting students going through emotional distress, instead of creating a foreboding atmosphere. Classrooms should exude a sense of positivity and inclusivity to support students.
Schools have a big role to play here. It is common for students to use mental health issues and conditions as insults or curse words, a common example of which would be "autistic", giving these words negative connotations. Support from teachers and regular campaigns to spread awareness regarding the matter would not only allow students to be educated regarding such sensitive matters, but would also allow schools to be aware of their students' mental and emotional wellbeing.
So, what can be done?
In light of a few incidents, the Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni announced that two lakh teachers would be trained in student counselling. While the efforts are commendable, this may not be the ultimate solution to our problems.
Hiring professional psychologists whose job it is to speak to people and understand their patients' inner psyche may offer better results. Talking to them can be beneficial for struggling students, which may not be the case if they talked with teachers with only a few weeks of training under their belt.
Arranging seminars and mental health workshops is crucial. Distinguished clinical psychologists or cognitive professors may be invited to these sessions to talk about the issues, explaining the importance of promoting inclusivity while debunking myths and stigmas surrounding mental health.
For high school and college students, these workshops should be geared towards explaining the harmful effects of keeping their struggles secret. As well as debunking myths, they should also look to radiate a positive energy, giving students the support they may often need.
For younger students, these workshops should be done with parents present. Parents should be made to understand their role in helping children keep mentally fresh, by emphasising the need to be friendly with children, and the perils of authoritative parenting.
The tragic tales, the young lives cut short, and the dashed dreams serve as warning for everyone. It is high time authorities prioritise the emotional wellbeing of students before things take a turn for the worse.
1. The Daily Star (September 10, 2022). Word suicide prevention day: Study finds rising numbers of student death by suicide
2. The Daily Star (August 29, 2022). 'Let's talk about robotics, AI, not about the length of women's dresses.'
Inqiad is a long suffering Man United fan and a self-proclaimed Targaryen. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org