[Opinion]Overseers need to raise their level of awareness
Song Zhenshao, director of the Mental Health Education and Counseling Center at Beijing Normal University
Beijing Normal University has taken a range of active measures to promote mental health awareness among students amid rising rates of psychological issues.
The number of students with anxiety, depression, serious mental health crises and even suicidal thoughts has been rising, which poses greater challenges for mental health education at universities.
As a result of the increased significance attached to the issue, my university has allocated more funds to psychological education for students. Our center has eight full-time teachers, twice the number it used to have, and the working space has also been increased.
In addition to offering counseling sessions, the teachers are responsible for giving psychological health courses to students. Thanks to the greater number of employees, the university has also opened more courses to ensure that all students can take at least one elective course on psychological health.
The main causes of mental health problems among students include interpersonal relations with classmates, friends or teachers, family and relationship issues, and academic stress. As students nowadays are more self-aware than ever before, they have greater difficulty in dealing with interpersonal relations.
Prevention of mental health crises and provision of mental health education must start at an early age. It is often too late if students only seek help after they have entered college.
However, the education system focuses too heavily on academic study, while physical and aesthetic education are often overlooked, which can lead to a higher risk of students developing mental health problems.
Moreover, the prevalence of video games can result in serious addiction among young students and, as a result, they can become anxious, bad-tempered, avoid responsibility and lose their sense of reality. Also, the lack of a rating system for movies and TV series has exposed young students to violent and/or erotic scenes.
In rural areas, where many parents have moved away and left children in the care of grandparents or other relatives, the kids often lack parental care and can become timid and reluctant to open up to others.
All these issues require concerted efforts from the government, parents, teachers and students themselves. Education authorities and school administrators need to further improve their awareness of the importance of psychological education.
Teacher training colleges should also make greater efforts to nurture mental health teachers, and the government should offer more incentives to mental health teachers in rural areas, such as subsidies and opportunities for promotion.
Traditional Chinese culture contains lots of wisdom, including how to become a decent and upright person, how to deal with difficulties and failure, and how to deal with interpersonal relations.
Schools should provide more education about traditional Chinese culture so students can learn from great minds and develop healthier mental states.
Song Zhenshao spoke with Zou Shuo.