Here's Why Psychological Training in School Syllabus is Need of the Hour

Saturday, 19 September 2020


Here's Why Psychological Training in School Syllabus is Need of the Hour

Barasha Das | July 18, 2020 13:58 hrs

The year 2020 might have started on a good note, but within 2 months life had taken an unknown course, unexpected and unprepared for. Never did one imagine that days like the current ones would come when people would spend months locked inside homes, without any social life. 

Consequently, mature adults who had till now been boasting about going through many ups and downs of life, have found themselves unable to cope up with the prevailing constraining and home-bound circumstances.

Many are clueless about how to deal with the situation or how to provide comfort to the ones seeking mental help. A beloved celebrity’s death has also impacted the general psyche of the nation as videos and news reports analyzing and investigating the departed soul’s death ‘mystery’ are being created and circulated by the hundreds on a daily basis. 

Then there are the students. The academic year had just begun or was about to begin when the prolonged lockdown happened. For them, the lockdown has proved to be a separation from the only social life they had - the school and college life. Forget about studies, what is the overall impression of all these on their developing mental status? 

And so lately, talks on mental health, depression, suicidal tendencies, and suicide itself have become part of the day-to-day discussion. While people across media platforms have taken to discuss mental issues on a serious note and experts have been providing the necessary advice to the general public in an attempt to keep their spirits up, two questions have emerged that need to be answered.

Firstly, has our education system ever prepared us to deal with such unprecedented situations?

Secondly, has the necessity of incorporating mental health studies or counselling into the school syllabus being considered?

After all, a quote by someone anonymous holds true, “Crisis is not a time when you fix a culture but it is a reflection of the culture.”

G Plus reached out to a few psychologists and psychiatrists hoping to find answers to these questions.

Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Jayanta Das said, “I definitely advocate that mental health-related issues and studies must be imparted as part of school curriculum, at least for the higher classes if not for the primary students. And through these, the school authorities should bridge between the students, parents, teachers and the counsellors. They should impart training on the basic ideas for ‘healthy, effective, scientific parenting’ and address issues related to school-going children. I feel ‘mental health’ centres are a necessity.”

“Some states have already introduced courses on how to enhance the emotional maturity of our children. That is of utmost necessity. Our current education system focuses on just one area, that is, intellectual maturity by perpetual learning that is reproduced at the examinations. But we do not consider the child developing as a social component of the community. If the children are equipped with emotional aspects of his or her individuality, social skills, then they will grow as proper, happy, and healthy individuals,” he added.

Mentioning about the steps to be taken by the system now to prepare the students for the coming years, Dr. Das said, “The way the society is changing in terms of technological growth, if we do not impart a futuristic personality development program, and if we do not try to equip our students for the coming years, say 2040-50, then it would be difficult for them to deal with rapid changes then. Even teachers’ orientation programs are important.”

We have seen that the lockdown has had adverse effects on students. The school is not just for education but it is also a social institution for the students, where they form playmates, peer groups, etc. Experts say that even the fights they indulge in are an import aspect of the developing process as it teaches social skills. On the other hand, screen timings have increased by the maximum which has also impacted the growing minds. 

Sanjeevani Goswami, psychologist, and former school counsellor said, “The CBSE has made it mandatory for every school to have life skills classes. But the schools have not yet taken them seriously, instead of using them as extra classes for other subjects. The United Nations has put up life skills like how to manage crisis, anger, decision making, interpersonal relationships, etc as a full-fledged course which must definitely be developed.”

“The lockdown and online classes have not just affected the students but also the parents and teachers. It is causing anxiety for all sections alike. Even experienced teachers, not being tech-savvy are feeling that they are underperforming and not being optimal. Parents are stressed out as well. I have students seeking consultation as they had experienced enormous stress, worrying they might not be able to cope with their syllabi,” she added. 

Goswami also pointed out that the discussions of anxiety, depression, and death around children, be it by parents or the media, create imprints on the young minds that might be harmful and lead them towards similar situations. One must always seek expert help if anything such is felt. But having a school course will prepare them for a more constructive way of self-empowerment.

Dr Sangeeta Goswami, counselling psychologist and president of Mind India, feels that metal education in school curriculums is an absolute necessity. She said, “My organization is running such courses in the higher education institutions. I have been asking the schools to incorporate some wellness centres for students and faculties. It should be all-encompassing, even including the management. But very few schools have proper counsellors. Usually, the psychology teachers are asked to take up the role, which is highly inappropriate.”

“The current situation is the new normal. So, psycho-social skills should be incorporated to help in children’s interpersonal development. A lot of times we are not able to empathize with ourselves. If we can incorporate these than the person will be able to look after their own well-being,” she added.

When asked about incorporating life skills in the school syllabus, Dr. Goswami said, “It was supposed to be that way, but schools that did incorporate the same adopted it as a mere grading system. For government schools under the Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA), our organisation did develop a manual on life skills for the students of class IX back in 2016, under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). We also trained the teachers at the district level. But due to lack of monitoring and evaluation, the same has not been facilitated. Had it been taken up it would have been implemented in around 4,500 government schools of the state.”


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