Prioritising mental health: A must for students, parents & schools 
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Prioritising mental health: A must for students, parents & schools 

Post by Aatif Qayoom on Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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In today's fast-paced world, the significance of good mental health cannot be overstated, especially for students. The rigorous academic environment, combined with personal growth challenges and social interactions, underscores the paramount importance of prioritizing mental well-being. From its impact on academic performance to overall quality of life, we will explore how nurturing mental health can positively influence various aspects of a student's journey.
Understanding mental health
Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences our thoughts, feelings, actions, and how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. It is a fundamental aspect of our overall health and well-being.
Local schools in the Kashmir Valley emphasize that mental health is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Throughout one's life, mental health problems can affect thinking, mood, and behaviour, making it a universal concern.
Academic pressure and mental health
Many students often find themselves overburdened with academic demands and assignments. The sheer amount of stress this can cause can undoubtedly have a negative impact on their mental health. The relentless pursuit of academic excellence can lead to unhealthy competition, where students may feel pressured to outshine others, sometimes even at the expense of their friends or by not completing assignments themselves. Such intense pressure frequently results in heightened stress levels, often leading to depression.
Moreover, the experience of failure, such as failing an exam or losing a competition, can trigger feelings of worthlessness among students. These emotions can, in turn, contribute to depression, a phase that many teenagers go through at some point during their school years.
Role of parents and teachers
Parents and teachers play distinct but equally essential roles in a student's life. Teachers spend significant hours working with individual children, providing valuable insight into their strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, parents witness their children in various settings that may not be accessible to teachers. Therefore, it is important for parents and teachers to work together harmoniously to ensure students have positive experiences at school and acquire the necessary life skills to succeed both academically and personally.
Benefits of good mental health
Good mental health is not just about feeling happy, it is essential for overall well-being. It contributes to a student's ability to establish and maintain strong relationships with others, fostering an overall sense of contentment. Furthermore, good mental health equips students with the resilience to cope with life's challenges and everyday stressors.
Addressing mental health concerns
Mental health among school students is a growing concern, given the demands of education combined with the challenges of adolescence. However, there are steps that can be taken to address this issue effectively.
Raising awareness: One of the most critical steps is to raise awareness about mental health issues. Unfortunately, these problems are sometimes viewed as affecting only a small minority of people, which is not accurate. Mental health problems can impact anyone, regardless of age. By increasing awareness, we can break down the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage those struggling to seek help without fear or hesitation.
Providing Support: Support is vital for those who are facing mental health challenges. This support can take various forms, but counselling and peer support groups have proven to be effective methods. Counselling offers a safe space for individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings, while peer support groups foster a sense of community and connection, especially for those feeling isolated.
Treatment and Recovery: It is important to understand that mental health problems are often treatable. Effective treatments are available, and with the right support, many individuals can recover from mental illness and lead happy and fulfilling lives.
Insights from Dr. Javeed Iqbal Dar (MD), Nodal Officer District Mental Health Program Kupwara
Dr Javeed Iqbal Dar emphasizes that mental health is an issue that knows no age boundaries. Everyone, from birth onwards, faces various ups and downs in life. How individuals cope with these challenges, armed with courage and life skills, determines their mental well-being. While adults generally manage such situations, school-going children are more vulnerable to developing anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental ailments.
A Call for Action
Schools are in dire need of workshops and seminars led by mental health professionals. These sessions can equip students with essential life skills to navigate life's difficulties effectively. Parents also play a pivotal role in supporting their children's mental health by nurturing a strong parent-child bond. When this friendship is established, children may not feel the need for external friends, which can sometimes lead to unfavourable outcomes. Parents should refrain from pressuring their children regarding studies or a specific profession and instead recognize each child's unique talents and nurture them accordingly.
Furthermore, teachers must keenly observe their students to enable timely intervention in rectifying any bad habits or addressing mental health concerns. Regular counselling sessions are crucial to maintaining better mental health among students.
District Mental Health Program
The District Mental Health Program operating from GMC has been taking proactive steps to support students' mental well-being. Since June 2023, experts from the unit have visited over 21 schools and colleges in the Kupwara district, in addition to various forces' establishments. These efforts aim to provide students with the tools and support they need to cope with life's challenges and maintain good mental health. 
Prioritizing mental health in schools and at home is not just an option but a necessity. It is an investment in the well-being and future success of our students. By raising awareness, providing support, and fostering a holistic approach to mental health, we can ensure that students have the resources they need to thrive academically and personally.

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