Amidst the rise of social media, information overload, and fierce competition, students seem to be more stressed than ever. However, inculcating happiness programme in the curriculum can help direct them towards better mental health.
Some stress is a part of life; it can be hard to deal with as it is as an adult, but the same has also become a pressing issue in students’ life in today’s fast-paced environment. The advent of technology and social media further add weight to it.
Children, today, are dealing with immense pressure, whether it is related to behaving at home, performing well in studies, fitting into their group of friends, or being likeable on the newest trending social media channel. Additionally, the Indian education system is intrinsically flawed, where the entire focus is put only on memorizing the course syllabus and getting good grades. Day in and day out, students are told that if they get better grades they will have a bright future.
Parents, too, unintentionally and in the name of having their children’s best interest at heart add more pressure on them. There are ever-increasing instances where a student comes home from school only to have another study-focused activity called tuition.
All these factors have weaved a world where children are basing their self-worth on academic performances and the number of likes they get on social media. They are irritable and confused because they do not know how to handle this pressure being thrown at them from all walks of life; they do not know how to express or control their emotions and end up being frustrated or fall into the sad trap of depression and anxiety.
A Practical Solution introduced by the Delhi Government
The Delhi government, in association with Dalai Lama, introduced a happiness programme in 2018, for students up to class VIII to address these mental health issues. The programme includes a 45 minute ‘happiness period’ in addition to the regular classes and is focused on helping the students deal with destructive and negative emotions and guiding them towards better mental health.
The programme was initially set out for government schools; however, a proposal has been brought forward to include the programme for municipal and private institutions as well.
A Delhi government official also asserted that the programme has been a success over the course of the previous year in terms of bringing emotional stability and incorporating a more responsible, caring, and mindful attitude to the students. The reason why this programme has proved to be so effective is that it helps students learn how to be present at the moment, understand that everyone learns on their own pace, and realize their own uniqueness.
On further discussion, it was revealed that how these programmes are based on 5 core focal points which help in dealing with mental pressure:
The ‘happiness period’ begins with a small exercise of meditation. The students are given time to close their eyes, focus on breathing, and just be present in the moment. This simple exercise teaches students to control their thoughts and focus only on what they wish to achieve. Besides, meditation is known well to reduce stress/ anxiety and accelerate brain functions.
Besides meditation, the students are encouraged to chat with their peers. This exercise benefits them in two ways; they get a chance to socialize with their peers and become aware of each other’s and their own thought patterns. The simple of the act making a conversation with fellow students also helps them be more confident in general social settings.
An important part of good character and mental health is the acceptance of things and situations that are beyond our control. The students are introduced to the idea of valuing the downs to appreciate the good. At the same time, the students are also taught to stand up to their opinions without being disrespectful to others, which is the mark of a good character.
Another lesson of the happiness programme is that panic and anger are not the only two options when faced with a difficult situation. The students are introduced with tools to respond and communicate mindfully, along with the importance of practising gratitude and happiness behaviours.
The last and the most important part of the programme revolve around the idea that happiness and well-being are always a work in progress. The programme helps students learn to be in the present moment, accept their own and other’s mistakes, and the importance of moving on to find a solution instead of worrying about the problem.
While these five substances of the happiness programme seem like the simple - average lessons, parents and school authorities need to remember that children are at a stage of learning; they need to be taught and shown the way. On that note, incorporating these simple yet powerful substances into the students’ curriculum can help a great dealing in fostering good mental well-being.