Cases of mental illness have been on the rise among students in the recent past. Anxiety and depression being the most common. Mental illness has been overlooked not only among students but in the society as a whole. This I believe is because of the ignorance that surrounds issues to do with mental illness.
They say education is supposed to make us know how to think not what to think because what is determined by how the individual thinks. If I know what and not how then I can think in whatever manner I consider fit. It could be stereotypically, without regard for humanity, with bias or in many other ways that will disregard problems in a society.
I speak about education because it is powerful. Suli breaks in his poem why I hate school but love education said education is the key but school is the lock. Come to think of it gaining knowledge and wisdom is a key to opening the mind but going to school does not guarantee knowledge or wisdom.
Education for mental health should be provided in our schools. We teach people about HIV which is one of the stigmatized illnesses in our society but we do not teach people about mental health. A zero credit course should be offered in universities to teach people about mental health. Mental health classes should be given to children in high school as a mandatory subject but not necessarily for the purposes of testing. If the education on mental health is done for the purposes of testing then it will not fulfil its intended purpose.
Ignorance of mental health issues begins at a very early stage in life, therefore, children grow with it. Children laugh at one another if they cannot do certain things or at someone who has a physical condition that seems “awkward”. These actions lower the self-esteem of others and have greater consequences for the person’s future life.
The basis of this education is not to teach them to be therapists but to teach them to be caring.
The reason why we laugh at one another is that we do not understand that mental illness carries emotional pain. Sometimes the words I want to be alone could mean you do not understand.
There are common symptoms of individuals suffering mental illness. If they last from 2 weeks to one month you should know there is a problem.
What if you are out there and out of school how can you learn about mental health / Mental illness?
1 Read books that talk about mental health – let us defeat the saying if you want to hide something from an African put it in a book
2 Read the stories of the individuals who belong to Nijali – http://nijali.org/
3 Take a look at several blogs that talk about mental health including
In conclusion, education is not the only way to understand mental health but it is among the most vital and crucial to the understanding of mental illness. In fact organizations such as Nijali formaly Mind My Mind –M3 were started to create awareness-educate. Therefore let us learn about mental illness and stop the stigma.