Be keen on mental health of learners

What you need to know:

The issue: 
Mental health
Our view:  
The most we can do is continue to be more attentive and responsive to learners’ needs, especially the non-physical ones. 

Last week we reported two cases of suicide in which the victims, both protested the choice of school, made for them by their parents. 
In the first story, 18-year-old Emmanuel Okello, a Senior Four student of Makerere College School allegedly committed suicide after his parent got him a place in another school he did not like. 

He waited for his father to take his siblings to school and then hang himself in their home compound at Parliament village-Kitukutwe in Kira Municipality on Monday. (Daily Monitor January 12, “Student commits suicide over change of school”)
The second story was of six-year-old Moreen Nantume who was found dead after she protested her parents’ decision to take her back to a village school.  Nantume a resident of Central Zone Bweyogerere, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District, was supposed to be taken back to a school in Lugumba, Buikwe District. 

According to the Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, when the girl’s parents returned home from work  they found her body hanging. (See Daily Monitor January 14 “Another child found dead after choice of school row”)
While it is absurd to even think about, there are bound to be more cases of such unfortunate endings to the lives of learners across the country. 
While it is not known whether the two suicides could have been stopped if the victims had been counselled about the conflict within or the actual cause of their anguish investigated, it is a good and simple place to start. 

The world has fast evolved and the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation.  The two-year school lockdown that was as a result of the pandemic did not leave anyone the same, and that includes learners too. They now have more to deal with mentally, physically and spiritually. 
Apart from reopening schools and having the school calendar running again, we must pay extra attention to the mental, physical, etc. state of the learners. At this point, nothing should be taken lightly or passed off as a pointless tantrum by a child or teenager. Pay close attention to learners. 

Again, it would be injudicious to assume that the deaths of the two victims could have been permanently thwarted by timely interventions from those nearest to them, or to even blame their deaths on anyone, but the most we can do is continue to be more attentive and responsive to learners’ needs, especially the non-physical ones. May their souls, rest in peace and may their families be comforted. 


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