- Suicide in children has risen in post-pandemic India
- Education that focuses on mental well-being and not on academic performance is to be implemented to combat the mental health crisis
Mental health in India has always been a weak concern and it suffers from stigma and lack of psychiatric infrastructure. The Covid-pandemic worsened the situation, especially for children. They were forced to adapt quickly, transitioning from traditional schooling to online education under lockdown conditions.
This shift in the educational models have impacted the mental health of children. Most of them have been facing difficulties in learning and cognitive abilities. Social isolation has led to the rise of depression, self-harm, eating disorders, learning disorders, etc.
Unfortunately, mental health issues have disturbingly increased suicidality among school-going children. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), one of the main reasons for children, aged 14–18 years, committing suicide frequently is the parents’ inability to afford gadgets for schooling needs. This shows how structural poverty affects children’s lives.
Given the situation, it is important that the mental health of children be addressed from an early age. Researchers are recommending school cultures that generate mental health consciousness through educational curriculums and extracurricular activities. Such pedagogies focus on social and emotional well-being. These reduce reliance on marks and cater to the well-rounded development of children.
Such pedagogical models are already in use in countries like the US, Canada, the UK, etc. These models include Social, Emotional and Ethical (SEE) Learning, sMOOC, MOCSE, etc. The educational models in India can also adopt these pedagogies.
For children, learning through such pedagogies improves learning, problem-solving, social inclusion, mindfulness, empathy, etc. These also encourage parents and teachers to create open, thoughtful, and compassionate learning environments for children. Therefore, these pedagogies yield improved psychological functioning and mental health.
Inculcating such pedagogical learning into cultures of schools can help expand the scope of education and mental health in children. Coupled with the 2017 Mental Health Act and changes in educational policies, India can finally look forward to alternative methods and models of development that go beyond the reliance on marks.