At a time when students should be at the height of their hunger for life, they are struggling to even show up at the table. It’s an issue that must be responded to at all levels — from teachers and parents to governments and educational institutions. In India, 14 per cent of 15-to-24-year-olds reported “often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things,” claims a 2021 UNICEF study. The National Crime Records Bureau data from the same year showed that student suicides in India that year were at a five-year high.
Prakriti Poddar, Global Head, Mental Health & Wellbeing, RoundGlass Living app said, "Student life is an exciting time of transition when we cross the threshold into adulthood by redrawing personal boundaries, flexing our independence, and exploring new identities and career paths. But the world is changing, and today’s youth are feeling it. Adolescent mental health is steadily declining across the globe, leaving experts and parents deeply worried."
Here are just a few ways they could build a healthier future for their students:
a) Create safe spaces on campus for students to talk about their mental health struggles and seek support from trained professionals.
b) Meet tech-savvy students in their comfort zone, by leveraging the latest wellbeing technology. Plus, supportive practices like meditation, yoga, sleep stories, and healthy recipes.
c) Train faculty as “first responders” who are sensitive to the needs of a neuro-diverse student community and can identify students in distress.
d) Plant the flag of wholistic wellbeing on campus by keeping the wellbeing of students at the centre of every managerial and academic decision.
e) Make wellbeing an event by organizing mental health workshops, counselling camps, and wellness weeks that teach students stress-and-anxiety-reducing techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.
f) Protect students from burnout. All-nighters and academic overload can leave students mentally and physically exhausted. Social connections and extra-curriculars are important parts of the student life and essential for their wholistic development.
It’s up to us to reverse the troubling trends in student mental health by providing relatable resources and support. We need to inspire students to exercise, prioritize sleep, eat well, and get social. If we can put the tools in their hands, they can take on adulthood with the abundant health, happiness, purpose, and empathy our world so greatly needs.
"A crucial first step in addressing young people's wellbeing is acknowledging that Indian students need mental health interventions. Students' academic performance, general growth, and future chances can all be greatly impacted by mental health concerns. The burden brought on by common mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depressive disorders, increases during childhood and peaks during adolescence and the early to middle years (10-29 years). Finding effective therapies is essential given the current prevalence and impact of teenage mental health issues.There is growing evidence from high-income nations that adolescent treatments in various settings and life domains promote excellent mental health and guard against mental health issues. Make sure that there are trained counsellors or psychologists at the schools who can offer pupils both individual and group counselling sessions. These experts can support students in overcoming mental difficulties, personal problems, and academic stress. Additionally, yoga and meditation rooms can be added to schools to help pupils manage their mental stress," said Dr Vinodha Kumary, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute
However, even as Covid-19 is nearly past us, the need to institute mental health interventions among young students remains as important as ever. The typical peer pressure, parental pressure, exam and career-related anxiety, incidences of bullying and even substance abuse etc. are some of the issues that would continue to take a toll on the mental health of students, regardless of the prevalence of any pandemic, or not. Therefore, it is imperative that long-term and well-designed intervention programmes are initiated and implemented for school children across all age groups and classes, socio-economic statuses, backgrounds and geographical locations, etc.