There are 4 quadrants of health when looking at holistic development – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Typically, schools do focus on physical (through sports) and mental (studies and extra-curricular) health. However, it is really the emotional and spiritual health which guide students through the right path and help them create their self-concept and help their own selves in times of crises. In Jnana Prabodhini, we do practise Upasana and other meditations (this has personally helped me to improve my concentration and find serenity). In this article I would like to focus on promoting emotional health.
Commonly what we understand from emotional intelligence/ competence is our ability to label our emotions, direct and express it in an appropriate way. Basically, knowing when and how to express. Use of language (choice of words) becomes important here. I want to emphasize that all emotions are natural be it anger, jealousy, contempt or joy and sadness. Raising awareness about emotional health is of paramount importance for schools today.
The nature of problems faced by students is increasing manifold due to the rise of technology and media ranging from FOMO, game addiction, social media addiction, self-esteem issues, attention deficit, restlessness etc. Having a team of counsellors who deal with teen issues and mental health is a necessity for every school. I am briefly discussing a mental health plan for school students. The activities could be seen as primary prevention (before the problem arises) and treatment (after the crisis) strategies.
- Activities for Parents
Schools can facilitate discussions on psycho-educating the parents about teen issues, developing strategies to handle teen issues, focusing on communication pattern for healthy conversation between children and parents.
- Activities for Students
a) Individual level –
Treatment: Students can approach the counsellor for their individual issues, where confidentiality will be maintained and a safe environment will be created.Further action can be taken depending on the intensity of the issues.
Primary prevention: It is important to identify what motivates a student (what brings out the zest in life for them) like reading books, sports, dancing, gymnastics, reading news, exercising etc. finding an activity that increases their intrinsic motivation for life in general. Secondly, encourage students to have at least one meal with the entire family in a day.
b) Group level –
Medium – group discussions, debates, watching movies and discussion, trust building activities, etc.
Topics – mental health issues and current world affairs
Mental health issues – 1 theme per month/ semester (ex. improving communication skills, understanding own emotions and handling them, awareness about teen issues and how to deal with it, sex education, knowing your mental health rights, bullying, improving concentration through mindfulness, stress inoculation training, etc.)
Current world affairs – discussing top 5 news of the week (1/ week)
Similarly, the rights of students as citizens, mental health rights, emergency contact of police, ambulance, etc. should be written on the central board where it is easily seen by all students. To ensure maximum student participation, these activities could be graded or students could be rewarded in some way. So students will get the seriousness of these issues and participate whole heartedly. In this way, I feel that schools can facilitate the holistic development of students.