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Mental Health Awareness no joke: What schools in Sri Lanka failed to see following recent tragedy

By: A Special Correspondent

July 05, Colombo (LNW): On a sombre Monday last month, a certain international school in Colombo 07 faced a devastating blow when two students tragically ended their lives by falling from a building.

The incident has not only shaken the school community but also highlighted a significant gap in the mental health support provided to the students. The tragedy fuelled headlines all over the Media in various forms, but LNW learned that the school’s administration team did not seem to give in much about the situation at all.

The parents of the students, therefore, have come together to demand urgent action to prevent further tragedies and to ensure the well-being of their children.

Change is demanded: Suicide is no joke!

In a letter addressed to the Chairperson of the school, parents have outlined their concerns and demanded immediate action.

They have called for a thorough assessment of the current mental health resources at the school and the implementation of a robust support system.

The petition highlights several key areas that need urgent attention:

  1. Assessment and Enhancement of Current Mental Health Resources: Conduct a thorough review of existing programmes and identify gaps in the support system.
  2. Implementation of Comprehensive Mental Health Programmes: Develop and introduce programmes that address the needs of students at all levels, focusing on prevention, intervention, and ongoing support.
  3. Training for Faculty and Staff: Provide teachers and staff with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and support students experiencing mental health issues.
  4. Establishment of a Safe Space and Peer Support Systems: Create safe spaces within the school where students can freely express their feelings and challenges without fear of stigma or judgment.

Did Media play its role right?

Parents have also mounted concerns about the impact of Social Media and unrestricted internet access on the mental health of students.

They emphasise the need for monitoring and educating children about the dangers of unhealthy online content.

There is a call for a system where friends, parents, and teachers are equipped to understand deviations from normal behaviour and seek early intervention, one parent told LNW.

Whilst the urgency of the situation cannot be overlooked and demands immediate attention, parents are eager for a prompt meeting with the school’s administration to discuss the implementation of these necessary measures.

They also urged the Media – both digital and printed – to not sensationalise suicide, or attempts of suicide of any age, for the sole benefit of ratings and viewership swelling, thereby invoking for a more lenient and ethical coverage for tragedies of this nature.

The role of the Media plays pivotally in the path to seek justice, but should be careful and sensitive to everyone without being subjugated to the so-called marketing strategies,” another parent pointed out.

They believe that by working together, they can create a supportive environment where students feel understood, valued, and safe.

This tragic event serves as a downright reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and support in educational institutions. The campaign initiated by the parents of the said school’s students is a crucial step towards ensuring that no more lives are lost to preventable tragedies.

Parents stress that it is a call to action for all schools to prioritise the mental well-being of their students and to create a nurturing environment where every child can thrive both academically and emotionally.

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