Make mental health a subject in schools

Strapline: Dr Samir Parikh of Fortis Hospital believes that if we do not address fears and anxieties of youth at the school level, gen next may end up damaged


A survey conducted among 200 counsellors, special educators and occupational therapists across 130 schools of Delhi NCR and Mumbai threw up the following facts:


·         91% participants believe that mental health is not given adequate importance in schools.

·         96% recognized the need to introduce mental health curriculum to schools.

·         29 % admitted that when in distress, students are hesitant in talking about their concerns

·         88% believes that students do not know how to respond  when their friends talk about their psychological or emotional issues.



Next time, your teen boy or girl goes through the lows or changes regular behaviour, do not dismiss it as growth pangs or attribute the condition to a hormonal gush. These could be the early signs of depression or trauma that they are not talking about, or not realising in the first place. That’s because the awareness about general mental health is pathetically low among young adults though mental health issues are assuming epidemic proportions in India.

A latest survey done by Fortis health care among 200 counsellors, special educators and occupational therapists across 130 schools in Delhi NCR and Mumbai reveals that our children need more information and awareness. The survey had 17 questions regarding mental health, awareness and attitude of students and peers. Dr Samir Parikh, director, Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, who led the survey said: “Ninety-one per cent of the participants believed that mental health is not given adequate importance in schools while 96% admitted that they recognized the need to incorporate a mental health curriculum within schools. Around 29% counsellors and allied professionals believed that when in distress, students prefer to keep their concerns to themselves rather than talking about them. Also 88% participants believed that students do not know how to respond when their friends talk about psychological or emotional concerns.”

Dr Parikh felt there was a need for mental health curriculum in schools to provide a platform to create a sensitized, educated as well as empowered and a generation with a positive mindset.

Dr Meenaxi Gupta, a child counsellor, elobrated “Today’s children are under immense pressure. They behaves like adults. They don’t want to open up. Parents expactations keep always keep them in performance pressure. Peer pressure, bollywood influence, comparision with others, these are some other reasons that children are under stress. She also force upon  the need for a redress mechanism within the school system, saying, “Today’s children are more vulnerable, sensitive and alone. They don’t share their burden easily. They are more comfortable to find the solution or information from the internet. Information on the internet may be half cooked and some time can create havoc. We need open conversations,” she said.

What is concerning most to our youth? 

Khushi  {changed name} a bright cheerful 15 year class nine student of a reputed Delhi school become silent suddenly. She avoids friends, parents and most of the time busy with her laptop. In some time she becomes irritable, angry parents couldn’t understand her behavior and talked with school counselor. After counseling they got to know Khushi has early signs of depression, she herself knew it and rather than talking with anybody she is consulting dr Internet. Whatis bothering her is her looks. She feels she is not as pretty as her friends in the group after counseling now she is back on track again.

Harshit 17 year 11th class student was madly in love with some girl. Harshit couldn’t handle the breakup. He also could not share his feeling with any-one. And one fine day he tried suicide. Now after counseling he is more stable and guided.

Above are just some of the examples how our youth is under unnecessary stress.

Based on the study our teenagers have lots of issues need to be answered.  Some of them are

  • How to deal with pressure
  • Relationship and peer issues
  • Academics and career
  • Mood, self esteem, anxiety

Other than performance pressure, looks and relationship issue is the most concerning for teenagers. These are the issues which they r hesitant to discuss and feel under immense pressure.

The study lead Dr Samir Parikh suggests in details

That in present time especially in urban areas both parents are working and children are alone most of the time, they have lot of pressure like adults. He said “With changing dynamics children tend to not share things with parents as sometime they feel they would be judged or reprimanded especially if they would be doing something parents would not approve. This starts a process of distancing.”

“Parents need to create a feeling of secure base- wherein children can feel comfort and freedom of sharing their thoughts, feelings and views- this would allow for developing healthy relationships and stronger attachments” He added

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