We are delighted to share a blog written by student Natalie, from the Chinese International School, who are part of a team delivering a Global Goals project for the 2021-22 GSL Global Goals Competition.
Their project is among over 957 social action projects currently running as part of the GSL movement and we are excited to be supporting them to design and lead positive social change in their community!
The aim of “Speak Our Minds” was to gain more insight into the mental health needs of student members of our one-year boarding school community and find ways to support them in our environment. Our project addressed SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being; Reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases and promote mental health.
During our project, we acquired the mental health needs of students and the factors that contribute towards their stress and pressure. As academically-driven students, most of our classmates’ stress stem from school. We conducted surveys (both qualitative and quantitative) by inviting students to have individual interviews. From these interviews, we identified common pain points, circumstances and experiences that our classmates face, which we then utilized these information to write an 8-page analysis/report that we sent to the leadership team of our school. The purpose of the analysis was to let the teachers of our school understand the struggles that student face, and review improvements within the current curriculum to ensure that the next group of Hangzhou boarding school students will be able to reap the benefits of having a more supportive and less stressful environment.
This project has inspired me to pursue a career in the field of psychology, and to help other people alleviate their internal and external stresses, which will ultimately lead to more willingness of speaking out about problems that adolescents face. I firmly believe that once we destigmatize the act of seeking therapy, we will be able to achieve soundness of mind.
One of the biggest challenges that I faced was more of a mental struggle. Because my project was to learn about the mental health needs of students around me, I was afraid of asking people personal questions related to their internal feelings. However, as I spent time with each person, these questions evolved into fruitful conversations that enhanced both the understanding of the challenges that they face and our friendships. The most rewarding aspect of participating in this competition was that I was able to empathize with them, fostering room and opportunities for support networks and build a stronger community.
In this project, I have learnt that to master the key of communicating with others, we need to empathise and put ourselves in their shoes. If I can find similarities between myself and another person, not only will I be able to form a closer relationship with them, I will also be able to connect with them on an emotional level. And the will to help others, is one that makes us human.
The Next Chapter
We started this project because student mental health should not be neglected. We’re very proud of the accomplishments that we have made, by including students’ perspectives and concluding them with graphs to reflect our feelings about our academic and social lives. Our biggest takeaway is that students must be understanding of one another. Students’ internal emotions and feelings should be expressed, not repressed. We should not feel as though we are burdens, that our basic emotions and feelings are unimportant or something to be ashamed about. If we show each other simple gestures of kindness and words of concern, the world may become a more accepting and kinder place.
Together, let us be heard. Together, let us speak our minds.