Psychologist and Counselor, Hoori Shah Deshpande speaks about the worrying condition of mental health in students and how schools and parents can deal with it
In today's ever-changing world, where mental health issues amongst students are increasingly common, the awareness and acceptance of the same have played a vital role in the healing process. Anxiety, depression, low self esteem/confidence, self-image issues, anger, bullying, peer pressure and addictions are only some of the issues counselors deal with. Autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities are also being identified and diagnosed. There are a lot of therapy and remediation options available today.
"The reasons for these problems can be many." said Psychologist and Counselor Hoori Shah. "For example, we see a lot of students traveling outstation for further studies at better colleges. Being away from home for the first time, coping with living independently along with the demands of an academic life can take a toll on many, leading them to feel anxious or depressed."
Hoori feels that with an increasing addiction to social media, we live in a world where we constantly validate ourselves and our feelings with the amount of likes and comments we get. "This obviously negatively impacts one’s self-image when things may not turn out how we expect," she said.
"In one of my lectures when I gave a snack break, some students actually used it to take 'selfies'," she added, "Sounds funny doesn’t it? But it is truly alarming and the best example is the recent case where a boy 'live-streamed' his own suicide," she said grimly.
"Another problem with the internet is that we have learned to get everything instantly," said Hoori. "Today’s generation has lost the ability to delay gratification, thus lowering their ability to tolerate frustration."
However, after years of experience and dealing with a variety of cases, Hoori feels that the first step to healing is awareness. "Although it is much more than before, still there is a lot of denial," she said.
"If you talk about a physical problem. There you are, you have everyone's sympathies. However, say that you have depression and people instantly react by saying 'Oh common you have everything, what are you depressed for?' This is a common reaction," she rued. "Psycho education is so very important and that too from an early age," she added.
Although a positive trend is being observed amongst teenagers and young adults, in what Hoori hopes is a corner turned. "People are willingly seeking therapy and are very open about sharing the same with their friends thus encouraging them to seek help for their problems too," she said.
Speaking on how schools and parents can tackle the issue, Hoori said, "The schools and parents can work together as well as at their individual levels. Every school must have counselors and simply having one is not enough. It is important to conduct a lot of workshops to create awareness so that children also understand and can identify if they need help with something."
"Also, teachers must be trained to identify and look for signs that a particular child might be going through something and communicate the same to the school counselor who can then involve the parents in the child's progress," she added.
Hoori feels that parents can help by sharing their experiences with the kids. "By letting them know that they are available and balancing the child's sleep, exercise and diet can also help prevent many mental health issues," she said.
"In conclusion, each one of us must pledge to spread awareness on mental health and make it as normal as any physical ailment. What better time to do it than the month of October, which is the mental health awareness month," said Hoori.
Hoori Shah Deshpande is a Mumbai-based psychologist and counselor. She has been a visiting faculty at esteemed colleges like Jai Hind and Nirmala Niketan. She currently works as a Behaviour Modification Therapist at the Aditya Birla Integrated School. In her free time she likes to paint, play the keyboard, sing and engage herself in gardening. She is extremely passionate about mental health awareness and can be followed on 'instagram' where she regularly posts about mental health.