I’m taking an online introductory course in Counselling and I’m currently reading a book called: The Skilled Helper. It’s interesting. I’ve barely started and already I’ve noticed that there is something very important and fundamentally missing in our Western system: we do not teach our young how to manage their mental health. At least, not on a large scale.
We show them how to take care of their bodies through eating well and exercising. We teach them to read, write and problem solve with equations. Sometimes we send them to Church and teach them about religion and morals, but….what about how to handle a crisis? How about teaching our kids about how their emotions work and that it’s okay to talk about them? What happened to focusing on alternative ways to handle situations, emotionally?
This is why we have Coaches and Counsellers! It’s not about telling someone what to do and how to handle their life but helping them discover and identify unused resources and opportunities that they already have, such as: How to cope during an emergency, how to deal with life’s stresses, how to handle emotional pain/anger/death/grief etc.
Do they even talk about this in school? How about at home? I’m not a parent and I can tell you that when I went to school (a LONG time ago) it was never covered off, not even remotely.
Now, I did a little research and it looks like in the British Columbia, curriculum under Physical Health, this subject is touched upon, briefly. So, I’m encouraged but from what I’ve read, it’s certainly not extensive. Big topics such as: sexual identity, bullying, emotional and physical changes during puberty and managing problems related to mental health are all in there. That’s great! This is 100% better than when I was a kid, but what about the nuts and bolts of everyday life? What about how we always tell boys not to cry and to suck it up? And how media encourages girls to look ‘western’ pretty (thin/sculpted features/large breasts…you get what I’m saying. Most of them do not look like that; I didn’t and sure don’t, now. What about female role models? Has that changed much? By looking at the books with key female roles, not so much.
My 22-year old niece worshipped Barbie from 2-years old until around 8 or 9-years old. What are we telling our kids who grow up thinking Barbie is what a woman is supposed to look like?
Our world is SO fast-paced and intellectually engaging for our young. We give them high-tech electronics practically at birth but do we ever sit down and talk about what it’s like to be sad or mad? Or, what this growing emotional being thinks about all of that? Think about it. Emotions RUN our lives. If you believe differently, just look at the news and then come back and tell me how it made you FEEL.
I’m just saying, folks, we need to change our entire strategy. What good is having a degree in neural science, having a perfect body, being wildly successful in your career if you’re not happy on the inside?
Now, I know a few AMAZing parents who nurture their children wisely and by the time they are teenagers, I’m willing to bet they will be highly sensitive, functional and intelligent beings capable of making very good decisions. That’s not the norm, though.
So what is the answer? How do we prepare the next generation so they can help fix this world? Who is responsible? Parents? Teachers?
Everyone. What’s who. Without a group effort, this paradigm shift will not take place any time soon.