Published: 15th February 2021
Welcome to Reason: Can we ignore students’ mental health issues any longer?
The fact that change is difficult for adults should bear on our minds, when we try and understand just how difficult this kind of change can be on children
There is no health without mental health; mental health is too important to be left
to the professionals alone, and mental health is everyone’s business
— Vikram Patel (b 1964), Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School
A recent report titled ‘School Director held for assaulting parent’ explained that a tiff over unpaid school fees turned ugly as the director of a private school assaulted the parent of a student inside a police station. An FIR has been registered and the director has been arrested. The student has secured his transfer certificate, the request for which, was stalled earlier on the ground of ‘pendency fees’.
In the backdrop of the Coronavirus and concurrent chaos on the educational scene, not much thought is spared for the trauma students are going through on various issues. Some surveys on mental health issues are on and some ‘early bird’ results are coming in.
It is interesting and relevant to note that mental health issues are widely recognised and responded to in the West. The need for reinforcing mental health measures in the context of Corona are engaging educators in the West as reflected in a recent agency report in the media as excerpted below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has multiplied the pressure on kids. Many have spent almost a year doing remote learning, isolated from their friends and classmates. Children’s ‘emergency-room’ visits related to mental health in the US was 44% higher in 2020 compared to 2019. One authority on the subject says offering mental health days can help children and parents communicate and prevent struggling students from falling behind in school or ending up in crisis.
The impact on our young and even the not-very-young cannot be simply ignored on any level. The fact that change is difficult for adults should bear on our minds, when we try and understand just how difficult this kind of change can be on children. Especially given how fast they can adapt well if given the right chance and orientation.
As against such widespread concern, we in India are fighting about reduction in school fees and cutting it, in addition to staff and their salaries. With disputes over these reaching the courts, we are sweeping the mental health problems of students under the carpet.