In the bustling classrooms of India’s educational institutions, among the faces of countless teenagers like Hunar, Janhavi, Krishh, and Zahra, lies an untold story- the story of silent battles with mental health. India’s youth faces a silent epidemic of mental health issues, and it is time to address these crisis head-on through an essential addition to our curriculum with mental health awareness. Anvi Kumar, Founder, of The Mind Canvas, discusses through a real-life example the importance of mental well-being among children.
The Silent Epidemic Among Teens
Among the many statistics and data points that highlight India’s mental health crisis, it is alarming to note that teenagers are particularly vulnerable. Hunar, a bright 14-year-old student from New Delhi, has felt this firsthand. The pressure to excel academically, paired with societal expectations, took a toll on his mental well-being. Like many of his peers, Hunar struggled with anxiety and stress.
Janhavi, his classmate, has her own battles. The relentless competition for college admissions and the burden of expectations weighed heavily on her shoulders. She realized that academic success should not come at the cost of her mental health.
Krishh, in their class, spent hours online, finding solace in the virtual world. While the internet offered a sense of connection and escape, it also presented its own set of challenges, such as cyberbullying and the addictive allure of screen time.
Meanwhile, Zahra, grapples with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition that made her daily life a constant struggle. The stigma surrounding mental health issues only made her battle more arduous.
Breaking the Silence Through Education
Hunar, Janhavi, Krishh, and Zahra represent countless teenagers who need support and understanding. These young minds are not just future leaders but also the heart of our society. We must acknowledge their emotional well-being as the foundation for a brighter future. Mental health education in our curriculum is the first step in this direction. It helps students like Hunar understand that they are not alone, that it’s okay to ask for help when they need it, and that their mental health matters just as much as their grades. Janhavi, having experienced the struggles firsthand, believes that discussing mental health openly in schools can break the stigma and normalize seeking help when needed. She’s convinced that such discussions would have helped her navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence more effectively. Krishh, recognizing the allure and pitfalls of the internet, emphasizes the importance of teaching teenagers how to manage screen time, navigate online challenges, and foster healthy offline relationships. Zahra, with her personal battle against OCD, knows that early education about mental health would have helped her understand her condition better and seek treatment sooner.
A Personal Approach to Education to create a lasting impact, mental health education must be personalized and integrated across subjects and grade levels. It’s about fostering empathy and understanding among students. It’s about equipping educators like Hunar’s teacher with the tools to recognize signs of distress and provide support. Hunar, who once felt overwhelmed, now finds solace in knowing that he can discuss his anxieties openly with his teachers and peers. Janhavi’s school has introduced regular sessions on stress management and emotional well-being, making her academic journey more manageable. Krishh’s school offers guidance on responsible internet use, empowering him to make informed choices online. Zahra’s struggles with OCD have become less isolating as her school promotes understanding and acceptance of mental health challenges.
Incorporating mental health awareness into India’s curriculum is not a mere choice; it’s a moral and societal responsibility. It’s about nurturing the minds of teenagers like Hunar, Janhavi, Krishh, and Zahra, ensuring they not only excel academically but also navigate their emotional well-being successfully. It’s time to break the silence, end the stigma, and empower our youth with the knowledge and support they need to thrive both in and out of the classroom. By doing so, we invest in a healthier, happier future for India.
NOTE- On the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2023 observed on October 10th, ScooNews has dedicated this week to amplifying the voices of the education fraternity on the Inclusion of mental health in our curriculum. Stay tuned for the whole week, we will be coming up with stories and articles on mental health in education.
This article commences the series #ScooNewsforMentalHealth campaign.