#SoroptimistsThinkOnIt 4~ ‘You Are Not Alone’
‘You Are Not Alone’ was a part of Mental Health Day’s 2019 focus on suicide prevention; it helped to raise awareness and educate secondary school students to mental health signs of potential suicidal thoughts and ways in which they can enable themselves and help their friends and family members who might show these signs.
Facilitator Ms. Raquel Mathews of Psychologists for the Growing Mind Ltd. pointed out that every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide and that it is the leading cause of death among young people 15 to 29 years old. She shared the challenges faced by a secondary school student under stress, much to the amazement of the students present, and how it was possible to move forward successfully with family and professional support.
Ms. Mathews explained the difference between Mental Health and Mental Illness. She helped to raise awareness and educate the students on the risk factors and warning signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviours. She counselled on methods of communication which young girls could use to help themselves, their friends and family members who might show these signs.
She explained that mental health challenges are faced by almost everyone at some time and there should be no stigma attached to it. Therefore, students should feel comfortable to reach out for help from friends, teachers, counsellors or other trusted persons. She appealed to them to learn the indicators of suicidal thinking in people and to know how to listen and respond to them. She proposed simple and practical methods of ‘checking-in’ with friends and ways of supporting young people to build life skills and coping mechanisms. She further advocated for these young girls to play an important role in helping friends to build a positive social support network.
The girls practice ‘One Call Away’ during set up.
The session ended with the girls lustily singing the song ‘One Call Away’ by Charlie Puth. The song made them understand that a listening ear is one call away and that they too can offer support to their friends in times of crisis.
This Suicide Prevention project impacted the entire population of secondary school girls who were interactively engaged with Ms Matthews. Students remained well past the end of the school day to chat with her.
The project resulted in increased awareness, education and sensitization to signs that you need help with mental health challenges one might be facing that could potentially lead to suicide. It also changed perceptions and attitudes surrounding mental health and the role that each and every one of us can play in “changing someone’s mind”. The project also encouraged students to seek help and not be afraid to talk with someone about how they are feeling.
Some quotes from students:
“I am not the only one going through stuff … I can talk to someone.”
“It’s okay to talk about your problems and reach out to someone.”
“I am not alone and there are people that can help me figure things out.”