“I wanted people to trust me, despite anything they’d heard. And more than that, I wanted them to know me. Not the stuff they thought they knew about me. No, the real me. I wanted them to get past the rumors.”
~Hannah, 13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why, a widely acclaimed book-turned-tv-show, is a narration of a series of unfortunate events that occur to a teenager, Hannah Baker, which eventually cause her to commit suicide. This book, while a tragic tale, highlights the paramount importance of taking care of a student’s mental health. Keep reading, because I’ll be listing down 13 points which will hopefully convince students to take a break and take care of their minds!
1. Better the health, better the grades
It’s common knowledge that studying without focus does no good to our memory. A student whose brain is flooded with negative thoughts, is unable to focus on their studies. Hence, put those self-deprecating thoughts aside folks, and gear up for acing your academics!
2. A healthy mind begets productivity and financial stability
Unquestionably, mental conditions such as anxiety and depression are the antithesis of productivity and imagination. Hence, a student’s efforts of getting a good GPA & a job may be hindered if he suffers from poor mental health. Consequently, this could lead to difficulty in making ends meet.
Conclusion: Don’t stress out folks, just delve into your mind where a cornucopia of creativity and possibilities awaits you!
3. It leads to emotional well-being
Emotional well-being is indeed vital for a student. We’ve all felt down in the dumps sometimes, perhaps due to grades, friendships etc, and rejected any help/advice from our loved ones. Allow me to tell you this: sharing always helps divide the weight of our worries. As a result, our focus is improved when studying.
4. Helps attain confidence & inner peace
Yeah, yeah, everyone’s heard something along the lines of, ‘Confidence is the key to success.’ But where does confidence come from? The answer: it stems from a healthy amount of self-esteem.
Fun fact: A high self-esteem is a sign of good mental health.
5. The healthier the mind, the healthier the body
It’s no secret: many of us have found comfort in food when we’ve been stressed out about exams. The downside to this is that it may cause obesity. Moreover, scientists have proven that a person with high stress levels is more likely to get pain in the joints etc. due to excessive adrenaline in the blood. Nonetheless, good news! We can hijack the secret formula to a happy body by hijacking our happy hormones!
7. Can reduce bullying at school
It should be noted that most bullies face personal issues and feel depressed and miserable inside. Misery indeed loves companions, but if schools could alleviate misery by providing counseling, bullying rates could reduce dramatically as fewer students would feel the need to bring down others to feel good about themselves.
8. May help prevent self-harm & suicide
Usually, most people are so surprised when a person close to them decides to take their life. Everyone’s like, ‘I never saw the signs’ or ‘She was excelling at school. So why’d she do it?’ That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about mental health. Your classmate sitting across you might be practicing self-harm, and you’d have no idea. Lesson: check up on your friends, siblings and children. Furthermore, check on them even if they’re laughing, planning meetups and excelling at school, because it’s better safe than sorry. Trust me, you really don’t want to live with the question, ‘Why wasn’t I there for him/her?’
9. May prevent drug abuse among students
Undoubtedly, an ever-increasing number of students have now resorted to drugs to boost their academic performance, or to escape to a fortress of numbness. Educating students about drug abuse and helping them in studies would indeed be extremely helpful.
10. Can help reduce cases of school shootings & violence
School shootings are rare in Pakistan, but violence isn’t. It isn’t uncommon to hear of a student attacking a teacher/another student over some feud. A US study reported that most students who are prone to violence harbour mental illnesses, and hurting others is like a vent for them. Providing counselling and therapy could help deal with this.
11. Mental health affects a student’s relationships too
When was the last time you hurled a tirade of abuse at a loved one when you were pissed off at something? This isn’t out of the blue for students, who’re dealing with academics, social life and hormones altogether. While I’d love to tell you to listen to Hassan Raheem to forget your problems, you need to first identify the root cause of this. Chances are, you didn’t mean it, and that something was bugging you. The solution (hopefully) lies in you apologising and discussing your concerns. Remember, you don’t need to shoulder your emotional baggage alone.
12. Focus on mental health can help reduce misconceptions
If you use social media platforms (kudos if you don’t), you might’ve come across influencers who upload stories captioned with something like, ‘Feeling depressed cuz I didn’t get enough attention today.’ The thing is, most depressed people don’t showcase their mental state to the world. Many deliberately upload happy content as a facade before others. Thus, we shouldn’t downplay mental illness by making light jokes. It should be noted that bringing spotlight to such misunderstandings at schools would definitely help students with mental health issues.
13. Focus on mental health can help reduce stigma around this topic
We’ve all seen it on Pakistani TV, heard it in Pakistani households, or even felt it in the atmosphere: an almost palpable aversion to talking about mental health. Students having depression coop themselves up in their rooms at the thought of being told to visit the ‘oh-so-dreaded’ therapist (*insert dramatic scream*). However, we may be able to finally end the stigma by spreading awareness.
In all, a student’s mental health isn’t something to be thrown under the rug. We need to address and tend to it. It’s about time that we all – students, teachers, and parents – take a leaf from 13 Reasons Why and start checking on each other. No one was able to save Hannah, but if you and I learn from these aforementioned 13 points, maybe – just maybe – we might save someone from becoming another Hannah.