Education, Mental Health and New Education Policy (2020)

By Wasim Kakroo

National Education Day is celebrated in India every year on 11th of November to commemorate the Birthday of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad for his contributions towards the education system in India.

WHETHER you loved it or loathed it, your school days will always be a part of who you are. Even if we weren’t conscious of it at the time, our experience in school helped shape who we are as adults today, which is not surprising considering that school is the center of every child who attends school. Students discover who they are, their interests, likes, and dislikes, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, in this environment. Students’ development is significantly influenced by the school and its environment. In addition to academics, schools are places where children learn social connections, social skills and establish their first relationships outside of the home. The outer world and the one within a school are very different from one another.

A child or adolescent learns a variety of other skills at school, including how to form and maintain friendships, participate in extracurricular activities like sports and stage-based activities like hosting programs, debates, and seminars, as well as how to establish and maintain their academic skills. Thus, school and hence education can and should be instrumental for a child’s or adolescents’ holistic (social, psychological, emotional, physical, and academic) development and hence enhance their mental health and wellbeing.

There is strong evidence that higher education levels are related to improved mental health. Since the association between the two is fairly complex, causal linkages are challenging to establish. But studies have shown that education is one of the most obvious predictors of outcomes in life, including employment, wealth, and social standing. As a result, it has a high degree of predictive power for better health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, lower levels of education have been linked to poorer socioeconomic position.

Higher education levels have been linked to better mental health. The argument is that educated individuals have more options, which gives them more security and more control over their lives. Higher education recipients are likely to make more money overall. Higher education recipients are more likely to earn more throughout the course of their lives.

Low levels of education have also been associated with a lack of resilience and poor sense of control. Lower levels of education are linked to “a lack of psychosocial resources” (such as a sense of control, resilience, the capacity to defer gratification, and access to cultural activities), as well as more exposure to everyday stressors. These negative elements have a strong association with the onset of depression.

People with more education, and consequently higher wages, are frequently spared from the health-harming stresses that come along with protracted social and economic adversity. Those with less education frequently have less resources (such as social support, a sense of control over life, and high self-esteem) to fend off the consequences of stress.

Conscientiousness, perseverance, a sense of personal control, flexibility, the capacity for negotiation, and the capacity to form relationships and establish social networks are just a few examples of the qualities that education in school and other learning opportunities outside of the classroom help to foster. These qualities are important throughout life and are important to mental health.

Adults with higher levels of education typically have wider social networks, which give them access to financial, psychological, and emotional resources that may lessen hardship and stress and thus enhance mental health.

People with higher education are also more likely to learn about healthy ways of living and are better suited for better careers. Patients who are better informed may be better able to understand their medical needs, follow instructions, speak out for themselves and their families, and interact with healthcare professionals in an efficient manner.

NEP-2020 has been framed, keeping in view the role of school education in the overall mental health and wellbeing of students.

The New Education Policy (NEP), which was finally unveiled after 3 long decades, has taken significant steps in this direction and is expected to revolutionize the educational system. Some of the highlights of the New Education Policy, 2020 include allocating 6% of the GDP to education, placing emphasis on  vocational programs, and the standardization of Indian Sign Language (ISL).

Besides everything else, the fact that mental health examinations will be a part of students’ routine physical checkups is what appeals to me as a clinical psychologist. Even if this new educational policy is still in its infancy, the idea of keeping an eye on students’ psychological wellbeing is commendable because health isn’t just about physical wellness.

Humans have emotional and logical thinking abilities. Every stage of a kid’s development, from conception to adulthood, is progressive, with environmental, social, genetic, and cultural influences all playing a role in how the child thinks.

Periodically, many schools in affluent countries assess kids’ psychological health and inform parents of their findings. The child’s emotional needs and emotions are met in this way.

If this were to be put into practice, we would be able to deal with children’s problems and provide them with the right kind of guidance. Students may experience problems ranging from the most basic, like receiving poor grades or getting little sleep, to serious problems, such marital abuse or violence.

In many schools in developed countries, regular assessments of students’ psychological health are made, and the results are shared with the parents. The needs of the child’s emotions are met in this way.

If this were to be adopted, we would be able to address the problems facing the children in our nation and provide them with the proper guidance. Students may experience problems ranging from very basic ones like poor grades or poor sleep to serious ones like domestic violence or abuse.

Children find it hard to express their feelings, but psychologists can tell by watching how a child behaves around their parents, teachers, and peers. More complex emotions like assurance, hope, guilt, and pride become apparent as the child grows and develops. Teaching kids how to manage their emotions is crucial. Early detection of odd behavior by therapists or psychologists can help the child express their feelings in a healthy, constructive way.

The government’s initiative through NEP 2020 to enhance and promote students’ mental health can only be successful with the schools’ enthusiastic cooperation. The ownership must be taken by every school at the state, district, sub-district, and block levels. School counseling would result in the adoption of a curriculum that supports both intellectual and personal and psychological growth.

To make the highlights of the New Education Policy-2020 more understandable, schools may host online workshops. The best outcomes would come from hiring a psychologist or counselor on a permanent basis (instead of as visiting faculty), as this would allow students to talk about their problems before their next visit.


  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196

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