Normalizing Mental Health

DPS Kamptee Road
Normalising Mental Health

03 Nov 2023

Conversation in schools every day, in a hundred small ways, our children ask, ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter’? Their behaviour often reflects our response. Mental health ailments in children are stereotypically looked at as being a consequence of a lack of self-discipline and willpower. Science shows us now the it is not just a lack of self-discipline or will-power, rather the underlying causes could very well be some mental-health issue and that is why normalising mental health conversations in school is the need of the hour.

As parents and caregivers, we’d all like to believe that our children are doing well and deny any mental health help they may require but that’s only denying children of a healthy and happy mind that they deserve. All children should be able to achieve the greatest possible realisation of their innate and intellectual potential and for that, they must think from healthy and happy minds and hearts just as much as they must live in healthy and happy bodies.With children having no choice but to prove themselves even at a tender age in an intensely competitive world, all whilst being judged, scrutinised and evaluated, the only way to go is to address the unavoidable mental health challenges and difficulties. India is currently going through a mental health ailment epidemic, specifically an anxiety epidemic with 14 per cent of the population, roughly 94.7 million people suffering from mental health ailments and 49 million people are suffering from anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, children have not been spared. Mental health ailments in children look like; not wanting to go to school, an intense sense of nervousness when separated from parents, crying spells when exposed to difficult situations and being silent. Silence however, is the most dangerous thing that can happen with mental health.

The good news is that talking about mental health challenges seems to be increasingly acceptable. While it may be understandably unsettling for you as a parent to imagine the pain and frustration your child may be going through as a result of a mental health difficulty, normalising mental health conversations in school, where children spend half of their day, will only make it easier to empathise, sympathise, understand and eventually help children overcome their mental health struggles they may be silently going through.

DPS Nagpur

Making mental-health conversations an active part of schooling can demolish stigma around mental health in general while opening many doors to a healthier life. A strong sense of self, flexibility, adaptability, decision-making, and the ability to deal with challenging emotions through healthy coping mechanisms are all crucial life skills that may support the growth of self- esteem. When children talk about feelings, feelings become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. As parents, we just need to remember, children are not problems. They have problems. We need to focus on helping our children; not fixing our children and we need to believe in our children. To quote Mathew Jacobson, “Behind every child who believed in himself is a parent who believed in them first.”

By: Anushka Bhargava
School Counsellor