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About 520 cases of mental health-related issues were reported in the Erongo Region, including among learners.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture indicates that the main factors affecting school learners' mental well-being are sexual and gender-based violence, bullying, and peer pressure.
 
All these can lead to mental health issues resulting in depression, stress, and suicide.
 
Learners or young people, for example, show signs of mental health problems such as wrist cutting, substance abuse, and toxic relationships, exposing them to falling pregnant and contracting infectious diseases.

A teacher at the Authentic Junior Secondary School, Sophie Kaune, says more needs to be done to assist learners experiencing mental health problems for the benefit of their academic performance.

"We need to support our children as much as possible, and it can be a single question, a small question of 'how was your day? What did you do? How did the test go?' Be in constant awareness of what your children are doing. Who your children are hanging around with and also, socially, what they keep themselves busy with when they are not at school or when they are not learning. So I think support from a parent or guardian is very very important."

Social media is also one of the contributors to mental health issues, which elevates levels of anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, and loneliness.

"Our children and learners are now exposed to big things compared to when we were younger. They can range from being abused to their parents abusing drugs and alcohol to the loss of a parent. Some of these behaviours are triggered by their parents' separation, or even a child's growing up with a new relative. This makes it hard for them to cope with life when they are approaching puberty."

She further says that mental health awareness is an important tool that educators can use to empower learners as the first line of defense.

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Photo Credits
Benguela Youth Network

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Author
Stefan Uirab