Childhood stress levels are at an all time high. According to the Healthy Young Minds report, around 10 percent of the world’s children today are suffering from diagnosable mental health problems; mainly anxiety, depression, and stress. That’s around 220 million children and young people suffering. And what’s worse, this number is expected to rise. The World Health Organisation states that by 2030, depression will be the number one global health risk. If we don’t act now, this will have a profound negative impact on the world. Our global economy and humanity will feel the brunt of this crisis.
This is a cry for help. Will we answer the call?
The way to combat this childhood suffering is by creating a paradigm shift in how we currently educate our children. One which addresses both the universoul nature (our inner essence) and intellectual development of children. In the 21st century, children need hope and inspiration. They need guidance toward inner peace as much as they need guidance towards academic achievement.
Parents – including myself – are increasingly stressed and under pressure from longer working hours and less down time. Social media and the internet have shaped a sense of urgency and immediacy in replying to emails; which means the work life has been seeping deeper and deeper into the home life. This makes it nearly impossible to switch off. Children are like sponges. They feel and sense what’s happening around them. It’s no wonder children are also becoming stressed and under pressure themselves.
What is the meaning, purpose and function of education?
The general purpose of education is to teach children to think critically. In order to attain standards set by the national curriculum, schools put children under pressure to achieve certain outcomes. The Guardian recently reported that stress caused by exams is at an all time high with a 200% rise in requests for counselling specifically because of exams says the NSPCC.
The irony is that whether a child will become a happy and functioning adult with social and emotional capacity is not measured through academic achievement. We might have children coming out of the education system with great intellect but if they are suffering from stress, anxiety, and a lack of emotional competence it does more harm than good. Currently, not enough time is spent on what makes us human beings.
Shifting education in the 21st century
Educators can be pioneers in transforming humanity by providing a curriculum enriched with both universoul and intellectual objectives. Love, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, responsibility, harmony and a concern for others are at the crux of the values of humanity and yet it’s missing from education.
Schools need an ethos that promotes children’s universoul well being by providing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and promoting happiness in schools, as Wellington College has been successfully running since 2006. Teaching children about altruism is another fundamental character trait in healthy social development.
Stress is inevitable in life but if children and young people are able to learn how to understand and manage their own emotions they will become emotionally, mentally, socially, and physically more healthy.
For the sake of our common humanity we must act now. Our future depends on it.