Young lives are wasting away tragically and all we are interested in is reporting it.

What did we expect when we only care about the grades they are making in school while we leave their emotional health to chance. Our education system urgently needs an effective counselling program.

In a space of two weeks, we have had to wake up to reports of three young ladies tragically taking their own lives.

Two ironically died on the day that was supposed to be set aside to celebrate women all over the world for what they contribute to society. These young ladies, unfortunately, did not live to reach their fullest potential, to be successful in their chosen areas of endeavours so that hopefully someday we can celebrate them on the international day of women.

With all the cases, one thing that runs through is that there were signs of some psychological issues. Having witnessed a suicide, I find it vital to say that we are all to blame for the death of the young ladies.  It is a pain to see young ladies with so much potential end their lives like this while family, friends, church and especially the schools could have prevented it.

Mental health is serious and should be treated as such; unfortunately, we do not attach as much seriousness as is needed to better handle the issues associated with it. As such we are left with no choice than to deal with the devastating effects, which often considering the gravity of it does very little to salvage the situation. I  hold on to the strong truth that young people go through a lot of stressful issues daily that leaves them with scars often difficult to heal. Our society, unfortunately, makes it seem as if young people cannot or most probably are not allowed to have problems of any kind. Basically, because they are unmarried; taking care of kids or paying bills so they are expected to be free from any kind of worries.  We make the prime mistake of assuming that, once we provide all that we can for our children, they should be over the moon without any worries.

But far from it, growing up as a process alone presents its own set of challenges that seem herculean to overcome and so the minds of young people are constantly thinking of how best they can go through it without feeling the pressures. For young children before adolescence, their minds are often preoccupied with how to be the perfect child for the parents to making the best grades in school. For those above these ages, the real world often stares them in the face with nowhere to turn to. Fear sets in, thoughts race wild, what if they fail? , the mind and heart is not at ease and they find themselves engrossed in negative thoughts. One little activity gone wrong sets the tone for depression to set in, when left untreated or not dealt with properly, it degenerates into something else. You and I cannot deny that adolescence is one of the most trying stages of life.

This is why I find it unforgivable that we have not realised the need for a comprehensive counselling plan for our schools. 60 years after independence, we still do not have trained counsellors in most of our basic and junior high schools. Some children go through all kinds of abuse at home and come to school to also receive a second doze of abuse because they are cannot catch up with the lessons in class. Instead of encouraging them, verbal abuse is heaped on them.

I can recount a situation when  I went to collect data for my final year dissertation which on the topic of counselling  in one of the basic schools in Tema, while interacting with one class teacher with the students filling the questionnaire, I heard a burst of laughter, I turned round to see a number of the pupils gathered around one of their mates, I was later to find out that, the young boy was a poor performer in class and so having finished their questionnaire, his mates decided to gather around him to see how he would answer the questionnaire which of course he was having difficulties with.

Now expecting the teacher to find something encouraging to say, she just left the situation with a comment that went some like this: “that particular boy is like that”. As if to say that he was intentionally inhibiting himself from understanding class lessons. It is obvious that the boy would be faced with a lot of low self-esteem which could later lead much more complex issues as he grows older without proper help.

Here is the thing, get the foundation of a building right, and it will stand strong throughout its lifespan. So it is with human life, we need to get it right from childhood, prepare our children for life and the challenges that come along with it, it’s not just about reading and writing and memorising things which will not matter twenty years later.

Education must be holistic so that once the children come out of one stage of it; they are equipped for the next. If they don’t take their lives in school, they end up doing it later in life. It is not surprising that we find “accomplished” people taking their lives, there is definitely much more to it than success.

We cannot sit down and claim that we are interested in the future of our children when we cannot help them overcome the challenges it presents.  I can only hope and pray that my children and the next generation after them will come to find out that whatever challenges they may go through during their academic life, they will have a good support system to see them through. Losing three precious lives should push us to do more for our basic education.

By: Amakuor Akpey/ A communicator/ akpeyleonora@gmail.com

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