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Education in conflict zones : The need for mental support

I still remember the car ride to school when my parents got a call informing us that there was a bomb blast right near our school. The house of CID DSP Chaudhry Aslam was bombed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, killing eight people including a teacher and her son. Our school was closed down for almost a week along with all the other schools in the vicinity. Even when school resumed, if there were news vans outside someone from the administration department would ask all the classes to close the curtains, turn off the lights and try to remain quite because our school was officially not supposed to open. This was an event that i never gave much it thought and it was only during this course that I began to critically assess the impact it had on my overall development.

As a Karachite my schooling years coincided with the reign off MQM in Karachi. There were regular strikes and schools closing down for a day or two due to security reasons were a normal part of our journey

Drawing a parallel with the United States, where tragic incidents of school shootings have occurred, I observed a stark difference in the response to such crises. In America, affected students were provided counseling, and their mental health was prioritized. Conversely, despite the profound disruptions caused by conflicts in our country, there was a noticeable absence of external support for us. Pakistan's education sector is constantly disrupted by the conflicts going around hence it is important for schools to cater to the mental needs of students.



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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
2023年12月01日

You’ve made a great point Aliya. The mental health, though an invisible part of us, tends to suffer the most. I also have ptsd from the time there was a bomb blast near my school when i was young and growing up i would always get scared of random things thinking what if its a bomb. It is a school’s duty to ensure every student gets counselling when needed and keep multiple collective counselling sessions as well. I think there should be focus groups as well for children who’ve suffered through similar trauma because it can really help them cope. Especially in conflict zones like Palestine, every child should get therapy so they can move on from the trauma that…

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Indeed, prioritizing mental health support is crucial, particularly in conflict zones where children are exposed to traumatic events. Your suggestion of focus groups and collective counseling sessions is insightful, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to healing. Creating a supportive environment within schools and involving parents in mental health awareness can contribute significantly to the well-being of children in such challenging circumstances. It's essential to amplify these voices to foster a greater understanding of the profound impact conflict has on the mental health of young individuals.

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It is interesting that you raised this point. As someone who can relate to your chooling years coincided with the reign off MQM in Karachi, I too had normalized violence and civil disobedience to such an extent that closure of schools was the norm. At that time, students like myself would be so unbothered. But now that I think about it. I don't think thats true. I think we all carried fear in our hearts and were always subcinsciously anxious, wondering what our future would look like in this country. I don't think students from such a young age deserve to carry this fear and anxiety around and so like you said, it is important for schools to cater to…

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Your reflection on the normalization of violence and civil disobedience during your schooling years in Karachi is insightful. It sheds light on the often overlooked psychological toll that such situations can have on students. The long-term impact on the mental well-being and outlook of young minds is a significant concern, as it may contribute to heightened anxiety, fear, and a sense of uncertainty about the future. Addressing the psychological needs of students in politically unstable environments becomes crucial for fostering resilience and maintaining hope in the face of adversity.

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The story about the impact of conflict on schooling in Pakistan is eye-opening. It's interesting how in the United States, students affected by tragedies get help for their mental health, but in Pakistan, despite similar disruptions, students don't receive that support. This shows how important it is for schools in conflict areas to care about students' mental well-being, not just their studies. I wonder, what could schools in these areas do to help students cope better mentally with all the disruptions they face?


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Helping students in areas with conflicts is crucial, and schools can do a lot for their mental well-being. They should have counseling services with trained staff, teach teachers to spot signs of distress, and offer programs for emotional support. Peer mentoring, an inclusive curriculum, and involving the community can create a supportive environment. Safe spaces in schools, partnerships with mental health professionals, and regular check-ins on students' mental health are important too. By combining education and mental health support, schools can really make a difference for students in conflict-affected areas.

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You are totally right, mental health support in schools has become more a sign of privilege and elitism rather than being a necessity. We as a community have become harrowingly callous to terrorist attacks and violence, especially during the time which you have described above. However, these events still have a massive effect on children. I still remember how my mother taught my sister and I to duck down in the car as practice incase anything ever happened. At the time I didn't process it, but now I realize how terrifying it is to always have to be aware and under the threat of constant violence.

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You are absolutely right, and your personal experience highlights the profound impact that living under the constant threat of violence can have on individuals, especially children. It's disheartening that the need for mental health support in schools has been overlooked or deemed a privilege. The normalization of such experiences in conflict zones can lead to long-lasting psychological effects on individuals, affecting their sense of security and well-being. Your reflection on your mother teaching you and your sister safety measures underscores the harsh reality many people in conflict areas face. It emphasizes the urgent need for society to prioritize mental health resources, making them accessible to all, particularly in regions affected by conflict.

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