Exam anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, compulsive gaming and Internet addiction disorder are some of the common teen problems that were discussed at a workshop for awareness on mental health that parents, students and teachers at St. James’ School attended at Addlife Caring Minds.
The two-hour session covered a wide range of topics from what mental health is all about to causes of mental illness and identifying mental health issues in children besides bullying, differences between school avoidance and truancy and relationship problems.
Mental health, we were told, is a term that describes a level of cognitive, social or emotional well-being, and is not merely an absence of a mental disorder. The discussion shattered myths like people who need psychiatric help should be locked away in institutions or that a person with a background of mental illness can never be normal or that people with mental illness history can only work at low-level jobs.
The interactive workshop was interspersed with role-playing and PowerPoint presentations. Students did an interesting role play on bullying with teachers and parents joining in and tips were given to both teachers and students on how to respond to bullying and protect one from being bullied.
A startling revelation was the percentage of children on anti-depressants, the sharp rise in suicide rate and the ratio of children, according to the Indian Council for Medical Research, diagnosed with mental health issues.
Of special significance to parents and teachers was advice on identification of symptoms of learning disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). The need to monitor the behaviour of the child at home, in school and in a social environment was stressed.
Students were given tips on how to cope with exam stress by improving study skills, conquering self-defeating thoughts , having an ambition, setting goals or seeking professional help if necessary.
Human relationships was another topic of interest.
The entire session was both informative and enlightening. As a parent who attended the workshop put it, “It promotes an understanding of the child and his problems, rather than labelling him as disobedient and disruptive.”
For parents & teachers
• Monitor behaviour
• Try to understand the child's behaviour
• Do not jump to conclusions
• Do not label the child
• Conquer self-defeating thoughts
• Have an ambition
• Set goals
• Seek professional help,
The writer is a teacher at St. James’ School