Is mental health ignored in our children’s schools?

    The child is the father of man – an idiom originated from William Wordsworth’s poem which says that man is the product of habits and behaviors developed in childhood. As a child mental health advocate, I so admire this line and the message it conveys pointing the importance of childhood in making the individuals we are today!

    Children’s mental health has never remained an important or serious subject to address in our region, we have been neglecting its significance in reaching developmental and emotional milestones. It is surprising to learn that we do not have specialized child psychiatrists or psychologists yet. There is rarely a concept of understanding or dealing with children’s mental health in our educational institutes. Teachers are doing the job of executing the curriculum only at schools. It is understood that sound mental health helps in better learning, integration of education and mental health carries genuine justifications. Our children spend more time in schools than any other formal institutional structure. Do these schools addressing the issues of children who are under stress, depress, having attention deficit, aggressive, hyperactive, having certain learning disabilities, slow learners or having low self-esteem?

    Teachers are always in the hassle to finish the overly burdened curriculum followed by tons of course revisions, monthly tests and quizzes to satisfy school administrations, teachers don’t get to know and understand their students in individual capacities and learn about their issues affecting their learning skills and behaviors. Tackling children’s mental health issues and assisting them in this regard in schools, where they live and learn is the least concerned matter. With cramming, we are producing a horde of memory chips, but not a generation with creativity.

    Children in our society are prone to child abuse and neglect, and they are being victim of negligence abuse of others, cannot express it effectively. Children below the age of sixteen years are 35% of our country’s population. What kind of generation we are preparing for our future through our systems? We are already contemplating the extremist mindset in our society. If we cannot make any difference in our today with respect to our children, for sure we cannot change our future tomorrow.

    Masooma Khan
    Masooma Khan is graduate of Peace & Conflict studies, University of Peshawar. She advocates for children mental health rights and awarness.

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