Surmounting Mental Health Prognosis In Education
Your unhappiness ultimately arises not from the circumstances of your life, but from the conditioning of your mind – Eckhart Tolle
Are we in a Mental Health pandemic? Since the last two years, there has been a substantial increase in the growth in Mental Health conditions, especially amongst youth & children.
Let’s focus on the reason this has particularly impacted the children and youth.
Circa 2000, technology platforms changed our lives forever. Google was launched, followed by social media platforms and Cellphone met the internet with 3G, and Apps to bring it all so conveniently to us. Is it our minds that got captured? A whole new industry arose to create more platforms and more Apps, and the brightest minds competed and jostled to capture more share of our mind. Best minds used hormonal sciences to keep us glued and addicted to their platforms and devices.
In parallel to all of this, the Z generation was born and nurtured by the technology-dominated, wonder-stricken society. Digital natives by birth, technology handhelds and experiences have been conspicuous throughout their childhood.
Let’s look at this world from their viewpoint, to understand the resultant impact:
Living through my Dual realms
My escapes to worlds virtual, multiply my dreams and fantasies,
tantalize my attention, sensation, stimulate hormones,
that trigger surfing of my spirits, up and down.
No one to nudge me or answer to, my freedom gets wings,
Independently expressing through masked persona, as many as I craft.
To share the joy rides, I hook up to social, to share & brag.
The social scoreboard reflects all other masks too,
making waves of success, experiences sensational,
swaggering, splurging, flaunting,
beating down my elation and joys, too.
I twist in agony and anguish, my psyche & spirit hits the rocks,
Pressures of peer and the dear shoot up, failure, despair loom,
hidden behind my stoic exterior, that shows my quotient cool
Nobody seems to get how stymied the virtual makes me in the real,
My addiction to simulated dopamine, gets no redress here
My dream journeys, so many, offer no sustainable path
Demands of this real world, truly torments and terrifies,
expecting me to be a star, as per their defined success
Our kids find themselves in a vicious chakravyuha as Arjun’s son Abhimanyu, found himself in Mahabharata. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here. Next comes Covid.
The covid years shuttered the real world and brought the virtual into complete dominance. With total dependency on online education, it brought a deeper regression honing social and relationship skills ergo emotional skills, as re-opened institutions are discovering. Nuclear family pressured parents had to double up with mentoring, tutoring, counseling roles without the factors of independence and experience.
Students’ values have got shaped by expediency, role modeled by all of us, to meet the exigencies. Covid limitations would be repressed in their minds, from preoccupation with virtual escapes. Covid losses have made a profound dent of fear and insecurity of the real world, however privileged or underprivileged the student has been.
Age of Fragility?
The technology empowered millennium decades have engendered an ecosystem of fragile mindsets, bruised and underprepared, to say the least. The conventional preventive mental health ecosystem of extended family, authentic friends and neighborhood is no longer available to repair and mend. As the AI age advances and technology disruptions loom ahead, this past may just look like a harbinger of times to come.
Nasim Taleb says, anti-fragility is the new mantra. Are we being called upon to nurture new generations that are adept at handling a fast-changing uncertain world?
Sustained Wellbeing and Mental Health
With the vanishing preventive mental health support layer, the buffer between wellbeing and mental health conditions is severely squeezed. If wellbeing is affected, the drop to mental health condition seems just round the corner. This is exemplified by the phenomenal growth rates of mental health conditions. But the situation may not be so grim if we turn to sustaining our wellbeing.
Sustaining our wellbeing can only come from being self-empowered into pivoting ourselves to meet the increasing volatile uncertainties of the real world. This requires cultivating Self-awareness and carrying that further into deploying our life skills and sustaining our success journey.
Our education system has conventionally only built cognitive and technical skills, as abundantly demanded by administration, industries and Technology.
There has been a slow burn recognition of the need to meet the new age requirements. Our National Education Policy as well as WHO envision and stipulate inclusion of Self-awareness, Socio-emotional and other life skills onto our curriculum. To their credit, governments of Delhi and MP have recently launched mindfulness at school levels.
However, do we realise that the responsibility for sustaining wellbeing has by default devolved onto the educational institutions, since the societal preventive mental health layer has receded, yielding to nuclear family structures and dominance of the virtual world? Will our parents, government, and educators rise to this challenge of urgently surmounting the crippling crisis and groom a generation that is self-empowered enough to thrive in their unprecedented incumbent times?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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