Most parents will, at some point, have worries or concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of their children, and whilst you can confidently attempt to make sure that they eat well, have regular bedtimes, and do their homework on time, it’s harder to ensure that children are supported where their mental health is concerned. At RGS Guildford Dubai, the mental health of their pupils is their top priority, and mental health awareness, is an integral part of the school’s DNA.

A global study recently found that close to 40 percent of young people aged 18-24 years in the Middle East struggled with their mental health last year. The Mental State of the World Report put this worrying trend down to the Covid-19 pandemic with its repeated lockdowns, study at home, and long spells of enforced isolation. But it also said the surge in mobile phone and internet use meant people spend less time making human connections, a trend the study’s authors believe needs “immediate attention”.

School principals in the UAE said encouraging young pupils not to brush mental illness under the carpet was crucial. “Be honest about how you’re feeling and seek help,” said Clare Turnbull, principal at The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. She said pupils needed to be taught to have the grit and determination to know what to do for themselves, to allow themselves to relax and regenerate. Teachers must be “unashamedly determined to prioritise the emotional wellbeing of young people alongside their academic and social development and have that as a central aim”.

A survey by RGS Guildford Dubai found that 70 percent of parents who were polled were worried about the mental health support their children currently received at school, a staggeringly high figure, in addition, 50 percent of parents who responded wanted to see mental health as a standard part of school curriculums.

“It is hugely important for us to constantly reach out to our network and community of parents to really understand what they are looking for in a school so we can offer the best possible support. It is no surprise that parents are now looking to schools for mental health support for their children after the pandemic has caused disruption in their learning and social development,” said Turnbull.

A further report published by Sapien Labs, which studied over 200,000 people across 34 countries with widespread internet access, measured mental health in people of all ages but found the global deterioration in the youngest adults to be of most concern. Among young adults, those in the 18-24 years category, 38 percent reported struggling or distress in the Middle Eastern countries surveyed including Iraq, Saudi Arabi, UAE, and Yemen. A worrying statistic also published in the report showed people spend an average of 7 to 10 hours online per day, depending on the country.

“It is perhaps not the use of the mobile phone and internet per se that has been damaging but rather that it occupies such a large fraction of waking time that it crowds out time that previously would have been spent on the in-person social interactions that are required to build and maintain a strong social self,” the report said.

It is these in-person social interactions along with the school awareness of the issues faced by our children, that RGS Guildford Dubai intends to address with their focus on mental health and wellbeing. If you would like to find out more about RGS Guildford Dubai please call 04 446 4333 or click here to make an inquiry.

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