Opinion: Mental health gap in Secondary schools.

Being a teenager is not easy because the adolescent stage is like a storm where many try to adventure and experiment but few don’t know that it’s the stage in life and need to educate adolescents on how to manage it other than penalizing them with tuff punishments which are exclusive of counseling leading to repetitive behavior in other schools where they run to after being expelled.

Suspensions and expulsions are rampant especially in secondary schools in Uganda from north to central and western Ugandan schools, despite dismissal being the traditional way of instilling discipline and behavior in the age group, the way it has been handled in most parts of the country is not the satisfying and sustainable paving way to unhealthy mental health such as low self-esteem, depression, stigma and poor copying like suicide and alcohol and drug use this comes about after the student has violated any school law this can be escaping, dogging lesions and others the student is punished without following the principles of natural justice which include fair hearing like hearing both sides of the case and beating bias and before the student know it one is already-packing bags and exiting the gate, yes some give second chances depending on the offense committed but in my opinion, it’s not enough because of the massive effects it comes with more can be done to make our community better.

The indefinite suspensions will lead to poverty in their homes, school dropouts, use of substances because these are students to some extent cleared all the school fees and are not refunded at all, depression, miserly and self-hate, and unhealthy negative thinking patterns which yield to negative thoughts of self-harm come in a case in point I know of a friend was expelled from secondary school in his first term due to conducting business at school which I agree was against the school rules but the expulsion almost leads to his death where he attempted to throw himself on the northern bypass or River rwizi with all that in my mind he had already written a letter which was on top of his suitcase but luckily enough HE found a random person that talked to him guided him and back to the school gate late where he found the mother waiting and proceeded home.

Way forward

All the above can be lessened by simplifying and changing their case pathway by including persons who are competent in the field of counseling and behavioral change such as school counselors, and social workers who will also be given a chance to look into the matter before implementing the last decision that may have long-lasting effects on the student, instead of leaving all the work to administrators who are fairly trained in the field of handling students mentality, behavioral change and wellbeing which will bring justice and a good learning environment leading to happy copying ways and a great nation in the future.

Those that are indiscipline can first visit the counselor for a session instead of using the dictatorial approach which is problematic and has dire effects, the good news is that most of them give in second chances after the first offense one can visit the counselor to guide the student on how best they can change their behaviors and improve their lives in the long run because its true humans can understand and change behavior after learning

If the above is done it will help to increase discipline, save parents income, and improve the student’s academic performance and well-being because there will hardly be anything to disrupt students.

In conclusion, I want to thank the institutions that have school counselors that guide the students and also encourage those institutions that don’t consider the idea of bringing social workers, with enough evidence I have seen talk therapy change the way how people think, behave and act it can also be passed on our schools for a better Uganda.

Story By: Asiimwe Brian Kazoora

Social workers at Tutapona.

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Brian said…
We need to do more as the government to instill behavior in children through physchosocial support
Brian said…
The talking is impactingful for behavioral change