New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI/Mediawire): Mental health has emerged as one of the major concerns in the world. Unfortunately, in India it is still outside the purview of common discussion.
The subject is under-discussed and under-explored in the public domain. This knowledge deficiency about mental health and its afflictions has gagged the voices of many who are wittingly or unwittingly supplicating for professional help. However, in order to address this knowledge gap, neutralize the taboo around mental health problems and normalise its acceptance, some visionaries have already started work around it, and one such is the Mount Litera School International (MLSI).
Envisioned two years ago, the MLSI had launched a pioneering mental health program that aimed to build up not just a promising student but also a strong and self-assured young individual. The merit of the program lies in a 50-min-long session that is conducted weekly to orient the growing minds to unravelling, comprehending, accepting the uncharted realm of mental health and wellness through discussion and inquiry. The motive behind this program is to arm these susceptible minds against any onslaught that may sabotage their self-belief and perspectives about human life and living. As Dr. Sharma, the Head of Secondary at MLSI says, "If we are to nurture our students to be the best that they can be, it is our responsibility as educators to help them find balance." He further adds, "I strongly believe that without a mental health focus, the other facets of one's potential can never be fully utilized."
This mental health initiative is very inclusive in nature with the teachers and other school authorities, mental health experts, parents and students themselves being equally active stakeholders.
Integral to this program is a collective behavioural correction that starts with an understanding that there is no shame in talking about mental health problems. The program is designed after a thorough need analysis of every single child and collecting various observations and inputs from the parents and teachers. The curriculum puts each child in charge of personal mental-wellbeing. This ownership empowers them with the belief that despite minor lapses, they can regain complete control of the mind.
The awareness is obviously imparted in an age-appropriate manner, watering the information down for ease of information processing. With interactive and stimulating tasks and activities accurate information is trickled down. The process of knowledge exchange is furthered through engaging assignments that encourage sensitization of mental health related topics and bring about a positive change.
The educators and counsellors behind the program believe in early intervention. This is to ensure that the convoluted motley of problems can be recognised, addressed and tackled right from the beginning. This approach also efficiently identifies students who require attention and then appreciate their individual coping mechanism.
Moreover, the educators and counsellors, being visionaries themselves, had designed the curriculum in such a manner that it would suit any situation, including the ongoing pandemic. Available over virtual platforms, its open-door-policy nature welcomes students to fearlessly seek one-on-one counselling anytime. The curriculum today effectively helps students to cope with uncontrollable stress with innovative techniques, manage time better, aside from reorganizing personal life while pursuing academic achievements.
According to our secondary school counsellor CyriacLiz , "Our rapidly changing times present plenty of obstacles for young people to learn to navigate. I find it helpful to discuss these topics in a classroom setting, as it gives us a chance to explore these ideas with games, exercise and debate. I'm grateful for the emphasis the school places on wellbeing. Even outside these extraordinary circumstances that the pandemic has brought, growing up is full of fundamental questions about who we are and our place in the world. Asking for help is not easy but I strongly encourage students to reach out. The more we know, the better we can coordinate with teachers and parents to ensure that our students get the best possible support."
The curriculum covers several interesting topics, including self-help strategies during lockdown. Self-help as a subject touches upon sleeping patterns, personal hygiene, anxiety and grief management, to cite a few. Some other topics, cultivated during the Mental Health Literacy sessions, are more complex and thought-evoking.
For example, conversations on Digital Citizenship encourage students to question the synergy between technology and social media, and their far-reaching effects. Discussions on Thinking Traps trigger their cognitive skills to assess the difference between facts and opinions or catastrophizing and "should" statements. Another interesting example is the Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy section that awakens self-compassion through optimism, kindness and goal mastery to understand and accept one's unique selves.
The MLSI mental health curriculum has waged a war against the taboo associated with mental health problems. As more and more people are suffering from the deep conditioning of intentional discrediting of mental health problems and silencing of those who are suffering from it, the educators and counsellors at MLSI are united to establish the normalization of acceptance of mental health problems and encourage more and more conversations around the subject. The intention behind the program is to liberation from the stigma associated with the subject through collaboration and awareness.
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