Did you know that October was Mental Health Awareness month?
It is a special month that globally creates awareness of the social stigmatization of mental health, it is a time where we as individuals reflect on how conscious we are of our mental health and well-being.
In light of the importance of mental health in October, we had kicked off the start of last month with the project Curason pa Curasonon in which we have begun the traject of providing lectures on mental health to secondary schools in San Nicolas, with the intention to empower 300 students between the ages of 14 and 17.
Curason pa Curason is a project that promotes the mental resilience of youth and young adults by including them in the solving and normalization of conversations around mental health in Aruba.
As part of the project Curason pa Curason, 7 mental health lectures were provided to 3rd-year students attending secondary schools Abraham de Veer School, John Wesley College, and Filomena College. To ensure the mental health lectures were inclusive in our pursuit to cater to the multicultural background of students, the themes presented in the lectures were provided in three languages: Papiamento, Dutch, and English. This allowed the students to feel more comfortable and gave them the courage to express themselves more freely during interactive moments throughout the lectures. The themes addressed were: what is mental health and what is mental resilience, what are the principles of carrying capacity and carrying a burden, alternatives to boosting your mental resilience, academic performance pressure and stress, and what are resources for mental health-related concerns. The themes were further emphasized by the use of informative videos to visually depict what resilience means and how a lack of resilience can impact the mental health of young people. Furthermore, based on research conducted on the mental health of youth in Aruba in 2012 and 2017, we started a conversation with the students using Kahoot as a means to identify how many of the class members experience symptoms of stress, depression, and trouble sleeping due overthinking. During the conversation in class, the students indicated that compared to the research conducted almost 10 years ago, they feel that the emotional baggage of young people has gotten more severe and that the pandemic plays a big role in the perpetuation of it. Through these lectures, we were able to reach a total of 148 students which provides us with a greater understanding of the experiences and perceptions of young people towards the theme of mental health.
With the culmination of the mental health lectures at the 3 secondary schools, the aim was to provide students with a better understanding of their thoughts, emotions and how every aspect of their life coincides with the stability of their mental health. In addition to this, they would have also learned healthy ways to preserve their mental resilience, which we hope will allow them to recognize that mental health-related challenges do not have to be intense and it is not required for them to face those challenges on their own. To ensure a proper observation of the growth of the students had been assessed, we conducted a pre-measurement survey to measure what the participants knew about mental health before the activities. After the next activity 'Impact Cafés', the participants will fill a post-measurement survey to measure the impact of the project.