Schools will pay more attention to mental well-being of students

Updated: Feb 2, 2023 By ZOU SHUO Print
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More attention should be paid on the psychological well-being of teenage students after a teenage boy in Shangrao, Jiangxi province committed suicide due to mental health issues, experts have said.

Fifteen-year-old high school student Hu Xinyu ended his life and local police said that he had suffered from mental health problems due to bad grades, social issues and stress from puberty.

He had difficulty sleeping, often woke up early, suffered from memory loss and suffered emotional problems such as feelings of guilt, pain and helplessness, local police said, adding that he had shown clear signals of suffering from mental health issues.

The incident captivated the country and had many people calling for improvement in students' psychological education.

Tragedies of students with severe mental health problems taking their own lives are not unusual.

In 2021, a 16-year-old high school student in Chengdu, Sichuan province, ended his life by jumping off a school building. He also had expressed suicidal thoughts.

In order to improve students' mental health and prevent such incidents, the Ministry of Education said it would include screening for depression in students' regular health checks.

The ministry also requires primary school students in higher grades, middle and high school students to undergo an annual psychological evaluation and has asked all primary and secondary schools to have at least one full-time psychology teacher.

Li Weihua, a teacher at the Positive Psychological Experience Center at Beihang University, said it is easy for teenage students, who are undergoing quick physical development and hormone changes to have unstable and impulsive emotions.

They are also physically mature enough to commit dangerous behaviours. They have developed independent thinking, so they want to act based on their own will and in today's society it is easy for them to have conflicts in their home and at school, he said.

Parents need to pay more attention to their adolescent children as teachers may find it hard to give the desired attention to a single student with a classroom of 20 or more, he said.

"They need to respect their children, help them to find ways to release their emotions, make friends, and find their own community," he said.

"More importantly, parents should get to know the things their teenage children are interested in, such as their favorite video games, these things will help to build trust with their children, as they often become a 'black box' and are reluctant to talk to their parents," Li said.

A diverse evaluation standard is needed so that students with different abilities can have their opportunity to shine, he added.

Sun Fang, a psychology teacher and counselor at Xishui County No 1 High School in Huanggang, Hubei province, said although there has been progress made in recent years, there is still a lack of psychology teachers at high schools.

Her school has more than 3,000 students and there are only two psychology teachers, and only three out of seven high schools and secondary vocational schools in the county are equipped with such teachers, she said.

However, after three years of COVID-19 epidemics and learning online, the percentage of students with mental health problems has increased and become more serious, she said.

Taking classes online has affected students' interpersonal skills and self-management skills. Moreover, spending too much time with their parents at home has only strained parent-child relationships further, Sun said.

"We often say that teenagers are experiencing turbulent emotional changes, but most children with good mental health qualities and supporting systems can get through the period safe and well."

The key is for teachers and parents to pay more attention to them, learn the characteristics of different stages of emotional development, find the early signals, and help them get the necessary help and treatment, she said.

Related: Missing teen committed suicide, police say

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