Mental disorders often have their initial stage during adolescence and high school teachers are in a good position to provide them basic support to students at school.
To address the issue, the government has announced plans to start training teachers to equip them with mental health skills.
“It is difficult to immediately detect the symptoms of a mental problem and failure to see them early can lead to serious physical or mental illnesses. So, this program will equip teachers with skills they need to help students,” Dr. Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the head of mental health division at the Ministry of Health said.
Dr. Kayiteshonga gave an example of a mass hysteria disease that was reported in different schools across the country last year.
The disease weakened the legs and made it barely impossible for the patients to walk. One school in Bugesera district reported 24 cases last year.
Dr. Kayiteshonga said that last year schools were exposed to mass hysteria disease and the patients were prone to depression and paralysis.
According to the World Health Organisation(WHO), during mass hysterias, the human mind goes on witch hunts for information that fits the narrative.
Dr. Daniel B. Block, a certified psychiatrist from Pennsylvania, United States of America says that mass hysteria is a form of groupthink. In cases of mass hysteria, the group members develop a common fear that often spirals into a panic.
In the circumstances, group members feed off each other’s emotional reactions, causing the panic to escalate. That nervous condition weakens joints and the victims could fail to move, according to Dr. Block.
“Beyond causing mass hysteria, groupthink can discourage independent thinking in both school and the workplace.”
The WHO reports indicate that the majority of mental disorders usually start during adolescence and may continue until adulthood.
The Rwanda Mental Health Survey conducted in 2018 reported a 10.2% prevalence of mental disorders among 14 -18 years old.
Gaspard Twagirayezu, the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education said, without mentioning the exact date to start, that teachers will be trained at their respective schools without putting on halt their teaching duties.