The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Mental health is very important for holistic well-being of people in all stages of life. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 emphasis on the mental health of learners. The main aim is holistic development of learners for a holistic learning process. Mental health and hygiene help the learners to cope with stress and challenges. According to the National Mental Health Survey conducted in India, 80 % of people do not have access to mental health care services and around 7.5% of the Indian population suffer from some form of mental disorder. About 10-30 % youth between the age of 10-19 experience mental health challenges including depression and anxiety disorders. Mental health and physiological wellbeing is one of the most neglected areas in India. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is also witnessing an increasing rate of mental health issues and the burden of mental disorders is maximum in young adults. It is prevalent in females, children, elderly people, and people having chronic medical conditions. For the past one decade, increasing rate of suicides, crime, theft, dacoits, robbery, murders, drug addiction have touched new heights’ in the Jammu and Kashmir. Every hospital has been receiving thousands of mental health patients annually. Soaring unemployment rate, abject poverty, failure in examinations, late marriages, business failure, unnecessary cultural forces, physical illness, limited basic resources, inability to fulfill desires in life, poor parenting, materialistic competition are major factors that affect mental health and wellbeing. A sound mind always resides in a sound body. When a child is physically and psychologically fit then only holistic learning development of the child is possible. Without mental health, a child cannot learn and groom. Child’s success in school and life is directly linked to his/her mental health and hygiene. Access to mental health services, proper care and support to students’ in schools are very important. Teachers are nation builders and social reformers. They can play a significant role in the mental health of students and people in a society as well. They are embodiments of knowledge, moral support, encouragement and love. They can provide all possible guidance, learning support, empathy and sympathy to students and make them independent by shaping their future bright and smiling. Students spend most of the time with teachers in schools and teachers as parental roles can identify and listen to their problems in a better way and can provide them with a safe, secure and nurturing climate in which children can develop healthy coping skills. Teachers can motivate students to show positive change. The mental health disorders cause mood swings, loss of weight, sleep, appetite, interest & enjoyment. It reduces the concentration and attention of a student towards the teaching learning process and a person towards his/her work. Depression, anxiety and insomnia have been more prevalent among the educated younger population of Jammu and Kashmir and it is increasing drug addiction and crime rate in our society. There are a number of misconceptions and stigma among unaware people about mental health and hygiene with the result, people having mental health disorders suffer greatly and mental health issues even take a heavy toll on their lives. According to a report released by Lancet, about 90 % of people with mental illness conditions feel negatively impacted by stigma and discrimination. Many people suffering from mental disorders are visiting illiterate spiritual persons and illiterate quacks instead of psychiatrists and mental health professionals for treatment that aggravates their mental problems. Many people have committed suicides due to wrong treatments by illegal spiritual persons and quacks. Early diagnosis of mental health issues and proper treatment by mental health professionals can only treat mental health patients.
Development of a helping attitude towards the people facing mental health issues will also resolve their mental problems. Mass media can play an important role in reducing stigma and discrimination about mental health and hygiene. Ideal teachers, conscious and civilized citizens, NGOs’, and mental health professionals should come forward to help people with mental health issues. They should provide a compassionate and supportive attitude, reduce, and ease their sufferings for their mental health and wellbeing.
Keeping in view the need and importance of mental health and hygiene and increasing misconceptions and myths in contemporary time, the department of school education has recently issued an important circular directed all the schools for conducting mental health and hygiene awareness’ among students. The initiative taken by the school education department is an appreciable and most welcome step. It will not only disseminate mental health awareness information among students and teachers but also will develop in them the spirit of sympathy, empathy, civic consciousness and overcome all prevailing stigma and misconceptions related to mental health and hygiene. For the last one month, seminars, debates, discussions’ about mental health and hygiene have been conducted in all the schools. The concerned School Nodal Officers are creating mental health and hygiene education and awareness among students, youth and senior citizens. The same seminars are yielding positive results in the form of improvement of wellbeing and resilience among students, youth and senior citizens as well. The mental health hygiene awareness among students, youth and senior citizens should continue in future due to many pressing challenges in a society. According to National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, mental health is vital for supporting students to enable a state of wellbeing where students can meet their learning potential, cope with stress, and openly connect with their friends and community. There is an urgent need for mental health and hygiene awareness among people in all villages and cities on war footing, specifically in Jammu and Kashmir. Proper mental health care, awareness and support systems are essential to address mental health issues’ and challenges. The government of Jammu and Kashmir has taken many important steps for reduction of mental health cases and overcoming myths and misconceptions’ associated with it. It has appointed trained mental health professionals who are creating awareness among people about mental health and hygiene. It has been also implementing many important centrally sponsored schemes like the National Mental Health Program for appointment of qualified mental health professionals’, strengthening, and up gradation of hospitals on modern lines for addressing the huge burden of mental health patients’ in the state. The government has also established guidance and counseling cells for mental health patients in the state. Counseling and guidance of mental health patients by well-qualified counselors and psychiatrists and their adequate care will reduce the rising graph of mental health issues. Development of a helping attitude towards the people facing mental health issues will also resolve their mental problems. Mass media can play an important role in reducing stigma and discrimination about mental health and hygiene. Ideal teachers, conscious and civilized citizens, NGOs’, and mental health professionals should come forward to help people with mental health issues. They should provide a compassionate and supportive attitude, reduce, and ease their sufferings for their mental health and wellbeing.
(Press Information Bureau-PIB, Srinagar has mailed this article to “Kashmir Horizon” fot publication in this newspaper. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)