This is my third round for my second cycle of this year. For those of you who don't know, my question this time is...
How can a student lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle?
As a reminder, I will be splitting each round into two segments: the first will relate to the average Canadian student and the second, the average Kenyan student. For this round, I will be looking into mental health and balanced social lives.
So let's get started!
Mental health in schools:
Mental health is tough. It is something that can alter someone's life drastically and it can be quite difficult to deal with - especially as a student. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has concluded that between 15% and 25 % of Canadian youth suffer from at least one mental health illness or problem. These statistics are quite staggering. Mental disorders are described to represent not only the most common but the most disabling condition that affects children and youth. The Commission has also concluded that "70% of mental illnesses in adults have their onset during adolescence or childhood and 70% of childhood cases of mental health problems can be solved through early diagnosis and interventions" which is why knowing how to identify and deal with this issue is imperative. (1)(2)
Nevertheless, school is a great place to promote strong mental health and to provide support for those who need it. But how does Canada do this? Well, speaking on my own experience as a Canadian teen, we learned about mental health in a course called 'Planning' last year in grade ten. 'Planning' focuses on preparing students for their future and learning about mental health was an aspect of the class. Additionally, Charles Best has three counsellors and a Youth Worker who are also great options if you are looking for someone to talk to. However, on a provincial and national scale, Canada has created quite a few initiatives in support of mental awareness. Whether it be in the community (like the Canadian Association for School Health), or provincial coalitions for youth and their mental health (like Stewart, Nyman, & Anderson, 2012), there have definitely been changes made in the past decade. (2)
How to balance mental health:
Sometimes, mental health may not seem like a priority compared to all the other aspects you have to juggle in life, but it is in fact extremely important to know how you can help yourself.
Here are some ways you can do so:
- Try to make your physical health a priority. I talked about physical health in my last post, but I didn't mention how having good physical health and exercise can positively affect your mental health as well. The endorphins released while exercising along with the physical benefits is extremely beneficial.
- Find ways to balance and calm on your own. This may take some time as you need to experiment for this one in order to find something that works for you. Whether it be meditation, guided imagery, or breathing exercises there are lots of options. A quick Google search will give you even more options if needed!
- Limit social media time. I know for some people, this isn't an easy thing to do, but social media is a powerful thing. Sometimes, taking breaks can be very beneficial. You may see that to stop watching everyone else and focusing on what you are doing will affect you quite positively.
- Change up your environment. Changing your scenery by rearranging your room, taking a walk on a street you've never been on, or getting food at a store you've never been to are small things you can do to take yourself out of an unhealthy mindset.
Here's what I found:
44% of Canadian Butterfly Effect members who took my survey said they do believe that school affects their mental health negatively.
33% of Canadian Butterfly Effect members who took my survey said they do not believe school affects their mental health negatively.
22% of Canadian Butterfly Effect members who took my survey said they are unsure if school affects their mental health negatively.
Mental health and the reasons behind it is different for each person, so I won't be going into too much detail with these survey results. However, the main reason I decided to include these statistics is because of the contrast between the Canadian and the Kenyan results. Scroll down to see the difference!
Believe it or not, I wasn't able to find a single reliable source that was able to provide the information I am looking for in regards to Kenyan students and mental health. I have contacted some Butterfly Effect members and asked some questions like I usually do and will update this post as soon as they get back to me. If you find any sources that you think may be of use to me, PLEASE comment them below - that would be extremely helpful!
Here's what I found:
100% of Canadian Butterfly Effect members who took my survey said they do not believe school affects their mental health negatively.
I can not wait for the Kenyan students I have contacted to get back to me as I am very curious as to what Kenyan schools or programs do that allow for this amazing statistic. Of course, the sample size is very small and should not be considered as a representation of all of Kenya.
Next week, I will be doing a resume of all my posts and giving a very concise list of how to balance all the aspects I have covered over the past few weeks in hopes to answer my inquiry question clearly.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment any feedback!