Why India’s students need lessons in happiness
College years can be a difficult time for students as they juggle academic pressure, family expectations and competition with other students. They face decisions that can have lifelong consequences. Often, they are in a new environment away from their support networks and have no-one to share their troubles with.
These factors too often lead to high levels of stress, anxiety and depression in students. A 2017 study found over 50% of Indian students suffer from at least moderate depression and heartbreakingly, it is far too common to read stories of students committing suicide around exam time. Currently more than one student commits suicide every hour in India.
It is not just India that is facing this problem, with the US and UK both finding high levels of stress amongst their students in recent years. A recent US survey found that 51% of high school students don’t believe their schools have done enough to help them deal with stress and fewer than half of graduates surveyed feel prepared for life after high school.
What can be done to help students?
Schools and colleges across the globe have begun to question what they can do to support students struggling with mental health issues. A growing number of colleges in India are providing counselling services to support students on non-academic matters.
Whilst this is a big step in the right direction, we also need to ask what preventative measures can be taken. How can we boost student well-being, making them more resilient to the stresses they face?
Ways to boost students’ resilience
The emerging science of happiness provides compelling evidence that happiness is a skill we can all learn. Research shows that equipping students with tools and techniques proven to boost their well-being enables them to manage the stresses of college life more effectively.
Colleges are starting to realise the benefits of teaching students these simple but effective happiness tools. In India the Indian School of Business (ISB) launched a course on a life of happiness and fulfillment to help students understand what really makes them happy. Likewise Bristol University in the UK (which has been in the spotlight for a number of student suicides) recently launched a Science of Happiness course, open to all students. At Yale stressed out students have been clamouring to learn life changing skills through their happiness course, which has proven to be their most popular class.
We have also been excited to see a comprehensive approach being undertaken in Delhi, where the government recently launched a happiness curriculum for students up to the age of 14. This curriculum is being closely investigated by other states with a view to a wider roll out. Whilst we wholeheartedly support this initiative – and would love to see happiness being taught in every school in India – we also see there is an urgent need to plug the gaps to ensure all students learn ways to develop sustainable happiness.
What more is needed?
At earth&us we understand the value in teaching happiness tools to people whatever their age, but we see these are most desperately needed by college students. As well as helping them navigate their current pressures more effectively there are clear benefits in equipping youths with lifelong skills on well-being.
We have a dream that all students are given time and resources to learn what really matters in life and practice tools and techniques to enable them to develop truly sustainable happiness. As students learn the true roots of happiness we believe that this will lead not just to happier students, but also a happier planet.