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Why It Is Essential To Introduce Basic Psychology In School Curriculum

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Almost every school today strives to provide a safe space for children and promises to give importance to a holistic education and development of the child. Holistic education and development is a relatively new movement in education that seeks to engage all aspects of a learner and focuses on their intellectual, mental, physical, emotional and social abilities.

However, in the last 12 years of my school life and according to the experiences of many other children, I’ve realised that while schools do teach us how to calculate the area of a trapezium, they don’t really teach us how to… umm, life! Don’t get me wrong, all the science, social science and math taught to us is extremely important in order to have a basic understanding of how the world operates and reason what happens around us.

However, I feel that this education is incomplete. While the child learns how to make sense of the happenings around the world, they struggle to make sense of their emotions. Schools teach the most advanced formulae and concepts, but don’t really teach that rapid increase in heartbeat, and excessive sweating and shaking before an exam aren’t just fear stemming from a lack of preparation. They are signs of a panic attack.

While schools do teach us how to calculate the area of a trapezium, they don’t really teach us how to life!

Adolescence is an age when many children go through identity crises, and face complexes and struggles. Nobody really openly talks to them about their problems, and even if they do, they end up dismissing them. Thus, children end up developing the attitude that “nobody really understands them and what they’re going through.” As a result of this, they might show faulty behaviour, give in to peer pressure in order to feel “accepted”, and be ready to go to extremes to ensure that their feeling of belongingness is met (like engaging in bullying someone or trying psychedelics or harmful substances just so that they can be a part of a group).

Introducing the subject of psychology might help children have a greater understanding of their emotions and make them more mindful of their actions. Actions and words have consequences on others and our own selves. Therefore, choosing them wisely is very important. Studying this might also help children have a healthier relationship with their peers and a positive influence on their self esteem and worth. I feel that adding this subject to the school curriculum will only add to the children’s personality.

It may help children understand what faulty behaviour is; that emotions (even the unpleasant ones) are meant to be felt and are nothing to be ashamed of; that failure shouldn’t be directly associated with the self-worth of a person; and that scoring a 100/100 or winning that match or competition doesn’t define their potential in any way.

I say all this because there’s a remarkable difference that I noticed in me after studying psychology. For me, it’s not just a subject, but an essential manual to understand simple yet complex emotions. By studying this subject, I’ve learnt about concepts such as empathy, and the difference between positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress), which were completely alien to me before. I’ve learnt that every emotion that a person feels is valid even though it might make no sense to others. Feelings can’t be simply categorised into black or white, or yes or no.

I’ve realised that anxiety and depression are more common among school children than we imagine, and because of lack of awareness, this problem gets masked with lighter words like stress, laziness and carelessness. Learning a few concepts in psychology has made me realise the “need” to be kind to others and also to myself. In this constant hustle and the need to do everything perfectly, we have forgotten what truly matters. It’s time to stop pushing children to be “the best” at something, and start motivating them to be the best version of themselves.

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  1. Simra Qaiyum

    Could not agree more with you. 👏👏

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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