All across the Globe, the mental health pandemic is on the rise and it’s hardly getting any recognition, the figures are even worse when we talk about schools and colleges. The number of students suffering from depression, anxiety, and other “mental health disorders” is getting bigger every day and the crises of mental health in educational institutions is getting worse with every passing day, but medical professionals, as well as teachers and parents, are completely oblivious about this topic, especially in Pakistan where there are so many taboos attached to this topic. And then, whenever we hear the news of any university student committing suicide, we get shocked for a day or two, start asking questions to psychiatrists and mental health professionals, and then the news gets replaced by the next breaking and we all forget that incident ever happened.
The crises of Mental health on campuses across the country can be traced back to several causes, from financial issues to bullying to the pressure of studies. The focus of almost all schools and colleges seems to be entirely on getting new grades and pressuring others to just keep running in a never-ending rat race. And in the midst of all this, the mental and physical well-being of students is greatly compromised.
What’s Parenting got to do with it?
It is a fact that parents play the most crucial part in the emotional and physical upbringing of their children and they have the power to make or break the life of children. Sadly, in most cases, we see that parents themselves lack the emotional capacity to connect and they only see their children as accessories and an extension of themselves, not as separate individuals who have their own decisions to make according to their own life experiences. In our desi society, parenting is the most neglected institution, and usually, parents are not equipped enough to deal with children and provide them with the proper tools to cope with the anxieties of the modern world.
In their formative years, if any child does not receive proper attention from its primary caregiver, it can account to a childhood trauma, which in later ages of his life will become an issue of mental health in the shape of depression, anxiety or worse cases can lead to addictive behaviors. Numerous studies done on addiction shows the trend that often adults with addictive behavior have troubled childhoods and often have parents who neglected their duties and didn’t give proper attention and care to their children. Psychologists such as Dr Nicole Le Pera and Dr Gabor Mate claim that emotionally immature parents are one of the main causes of mental health issues in adults as it causes children to view themselves from the eyes of their “critical parents” and disconnects themselves from their own “authentic selves”, which can further result into children and adults having self-doubts and then we see students always comparing themselves with others in every social setting.
So, in order to solve the mental health issues of students, especially school-going children, special attention should be given to the mental and emotional well-being of their parents. In this age of instant gratification, the role of parents is even more crucial and important. Parenting, if done with utmost consciousness and awareness can solve most of the issues related to mental health. It can also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and can help improve mental health by fostering strong relationships and providing a sense of community. Engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and seeking support from friends and family can help parents manage the challenges of parenting and maintain their mental well-being. It is important for parents to seek help if they are struggling with their mental health. Therapy, support groups, and medication can all be effective in addressing mental health concerns and improving overall well-being. By prioritizing their mental health, parents can provide a better life for themselves and their children.
The Culture of Counselling
Compared to universities and colleges across the globe, the concept of “counseling” is completely alien to the academic culture of Pakistan. Most students tend to pursue their careers either by parental pressure or because of the pressure of society. It’s only when they come into professional life, they realize that they didn’t want to be there in the first place. Some may argue that given the budget and resources that the education sector receives from the government, counseling is just a luxury to be only afforded by the rich and the elite but I would argue that the quite opposite is true. We see in the US and other western countries, that student counseling is a norm even in public schools and colleges. The job of a student counselor is not only limited to providing emotional support to vulnerable students but also helps them in unlocking their hidden potential and connecting them with their authentic selves, guiding them through the process of picking their professional degrees and helping them navigate through the University admission process and so on and so forth. Hence, the role of the counselor is of key importance, not only in matters related to mental health but also in the educational development of students.
In Pakistan, counseling is usually frowned upon because both parents and society at large have this misconception that if their child is seeking the help of a counselor, there must be something wrong with him the whole topic of mental health is stigmatized to an extent that people prefer to suffer in silence instead of getting help. But the fact is, counseling can help us fight these crises of mental health going rampant in universities and colleges.
In order to take the fight against the pandemic mental health seriously, the importance of student counseling cannot be emphasized enough. Though the scope of it is not just limited to the emotional and mental well-being of students.
How Can Student Counselling Help us?
Student counseling is of utmost importance in Pakistan for the following reason and can play a pivotal role in combating the crises of mental health in so many ways such as:
- Mental Health: Mental health is a major concern in Pakistan, with increasing stress levels among students Counseling services can help students cope with these pressures, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve overall well-being.
- Career Guidance: Many students in Pakistan are unaware of their career options and the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. Student counseling can provide guidance and support in choosing the right career path.
- Academic Performance: Counselling can also help students overcome academic difficulties and provide strategies to improve their performance. This can be especially useful for students who are struggling with specific subjects or who need help with time management and study skills.
- Personal Issues: Students may encounter a variety of personal issues such as relationships, family problems, or financial difficulty. Counseling can provide a safe and supportive space for students to discuss these challenges and develop coping strategies.
- Prevention of Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is a growing problem in Pakistan, particularly among students. Counseling services can help prevent substance abuse by providing education and support for students who may be struggling with addiction.
In conclusion, student counseling plays a crucial role in the overall development and well-being of students in Pakistan. It can provide support and guidance in a variety of areas, including mental health, career guidance, academic performance, personal issues, and prevention of substance abuse.