To spread positivity, one needs to stay positive: Dr. Shefali Mishra

Dr Shefali Mishra is a mental health practitioner who believes in addressing the emotional and behavioural problems of an individual. Actively interacting with the psychological problems of adolescents and adults, Dr Shefali Mishra has a never-ending relationship with training, consulting and counselling.

Children are like wet cement whatever falls on them makes an impression.”– Haim Ginott, child psychologist.

Every year we celebrate October 10 as WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY. This year the theme of the World Mental Health Day decided by World Federation for Mental Health is “Mental Health for all – Greater investment, greater access to everyone and everywhere.” Studies conducted by the WHO points out that there has been an increase in mental health issues across the globe. Around 450 million people are suffering from various mental disorders. Every year, one adult in every four and one children in every 10 are suffering from mental health issues, thus affecting millions of lives. Today let’s understand the importance of mental well being and how we can as adults, teachers help our students to be mentally fit and healthy in this new normal with the help of Dr Shefali Mishra who is a Senior Counseling Psychologist.

Challenge is to maintain mental well-being in this new normal

“Just as education and physical health is important, mental health is also important.” For decades it is said to be physically fit and physically strong. But we don’t recognise the importance of our mental well being. Mental well being is the mental capacity of an individual to cope up with the stresses of life, ups and downs of everyday life.

Do Watch our conversation with Dr Shefali Mishra here

Dr Shefali Mishra is a mental health practitioner who believes in addressing the emotional and behavioural problems of an individual. Actively interacting with the psychological problems of adolescents and adults, Dr Shefali Mishra has a never-ending relationship with training, consulting and counselling. With her writing and research skills, she speaks on managing mental well being during the Corona Crisis. Dr Mishra says that the mental capacity of a person varies day by day. People tend to be stronger and weaker according to the circumstances they undergo.

The cause and the symptoms

In the present scenario, students are under stress physically and mentally. Dr Mishra points out the significance of mental well being at school. A student spends most of their time at school and it is essential to take good care of their mental health. Dr Mishra has a lot to talk about the transition phase from adolescent to adulthood where mental growth takes place. She talks about the physical changes, mental, cognitive, emotional and behavioural problems among the students. Depression is found to be common among adolescents as they undergo various changes.

There are multiple factors involved, including pressure to succeed in academics, financial stress, uncertainty about which major or career path to choose, increased social media use, and less stigma around seeking help and that make kids prone to depression. She says it is necessary to identify the person who is under stress. It is the primary responsibility of the teachers in school to make emphasis on mental health. They can identify it and inform the counsellor in school.

Mental wellbeing @ school level

Group sessions, Life skill education should be regularly conducted by a counsellor. The individual counselling session should be done by a teacher who is seemed to be disturbed in school. Family counselling can also be done. It is very important to make part parents too in this process. Psycho educating parents and teachers about the importance of mental health can also be done. Dr Mishra assures the impact when proper exposure and learning can be integrated with the help of internet facilities and activities for children.  YouTube, online classes can be used as a platform to share knowledge during this crisis.  Especially during a pandemic crisis, students should also be psychoeducated about the COVID-19 Virus. Imparting correct information is very important as there are so many unreliable sources on the internet.

Handling Repetitive Behaviour in Children

A teacher-student rapport is the first step to approach the issues of children. Simple activities including a star for a good thing done, for the improvement they have made can have a bigger impact among the students.  A token economy system is one of the fastest and most effective ways to get students to follow the rules. Similar to a traditional reward system, kids earn tokens throughout the day. Then, tokens can be exchanged for bigger rewards. Dr. Mishra suggested that a behavioural contract can be made students behavioural contract with a student who promises facilities for not being a bad student at school. Teachers can play important role in the mental well being of children. A teacher should never give up on their children and parenting can be helpful in understanding the behavioural changes in the students. Ensuring the participation of students in dance, sports can channelize their energy. Appreciating the students, acknowledging the good deeds done by them and giving simple duties can develop a sense of responsibility among the students.

Healthy environment for positive learning

“Every individual cannot play the role of a counsellor. To be a good counsellor, one must possess qualified skills and that can become with proper education and training, says Dr Mishra. She speaks on the necessity to initiate mental health programs at school.

Shefali believes that Role of school in promoting mental health is crucial as the teachers and parents. Schools should organize training workshops for newly appointed teachers wherein they can invite child psychologists who can explain what teachers need to know about mental health. School can train teachers about child psychology, types of mental disorders in children, signs and symptoms to identify and the healing measures to take. Teachers should be trained to deal with children suffering from any disorder without letting the other children outcast him or her. 

According to Shefali, Schools should organize a screening of documentaries and short films that talk about mental health and how can students come out in open to discuss about it freely. School can appoint a school therapist who can help students to cope up with stress, peer pressure and any other problems they are dealing with. This will certainly help remove the taboo attached to visiting therapist if schools have full-time therapists working in the school itself. 

She believes that We all need to understand that schools are not mere the centres of education and giving exams but a place where the child develops, starts understanding life to build a happy and healthy future.  

Stay in touch and break the stigmas

The stigma attached in the society that, seeing a doctor is normal whereas seeing a counsellor for mental aid portrays them to be mad. Staying in touch with students reduces stress and problems and can bring improvement in students. Dr. Mishra appeals to wait for slow changes rather than focusing on immediate reactions. Teachers are closer to a student and their family. They have a crucial role in every step especially during any crisis. She further speaks about the role of family, people around us in managing the mental well being.

When we communicate and converse with our friends, it helps us to divert our attention from the problems and take us towards a positive attitude in life. She urges not to socially isolate ourselves which may have negative impacts on us. Counselling helps in improving coping skills. Keeping patience will definitely improve our mental capacity. Dr Mishra appreciated the initiative of government in encouraging counsellor for guardians and students in school. She expressed the necessity of counsellor in the present situation and in the future too. She affirms the significance of government intervention in case of mental health. She speaks about the counselling aid provided by government through telephone.

Dr Mishra assures that together changes can be brought. We must be alert and compassionate to our fellow mates. At a preventive level more importance should be given to make changes in the right time and right manner. Every problem can be managed if we are more flexible and open to changes. People should seek help from a counsellor if necessary and together we will achieve our goals of healthy society in all aspects of life.

We congratulate people like Dr Shefali Mishra who is working for the society and its future leaders. salutes the creators of India’s tomorrow, Dr Shefali Mishra, for her efforts and dedication. Sarkari sbse Asarkari!! 

(With Ancy Maria Thomas)

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All the stories are originally designed by team Sarkari School. Strict action will be taken against plagiarism.

About the author: Abhishek Ranjan

Abhishek Ranjan is the Founder and Director of SarkariSchool.IN

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