The Cultural Taboo on Mental Illness - World Mental Health Day 2018
Today, I’m going to talk about mental illness and the cultural taboo entangled in it. I’d like to ask each and everyone of you to now look around yourselves. You are surrounded by dozens upon dozens of individual minds who either blossom or scream in the silence.
The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as health conditions involving one or a combination of changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour. The key words in that definition would be “health condition”. Mental illness is just as serious as other more physical illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. Without mental stability, even the most physically stable person will feel their health deteriorate. So many people have disregarded mental disorders as just a made up phenomenon or a method of seeking attention. Mental illness is real! It is poisoning more and more of our population and we have nobody but ourselves to blame. Those suffering from mental disorders are not just making it up; they are not just attention seeking and most of all, they cannot ‘just get over it’.
Depression - one of the more common mental illnesses- is said to affect approximately 350 million people worldwide. What is the probability that 350 million people have schemed and decided to purposely suffer just to gain attention? It’s very, very low. In fact, depression is more than just sadness- which it is often wrongly paired synonymously with. Depression is a disorder that is affected by a lack or underproduction of the neuro-transmitter serotonin in the brain. Depressive people can’t just wake up one day and decide to stop producing the hormone that makes them happy in the same way that insomniacs can’t just decide to slow their production of melatonin or dopamine. Emotions are key in this situation. Love or attraction is dependant on oxytocin production and excitement is associated with rushes of adrenaline. None of this is controlled and this is the reason why ‘getting over it’ just isn’t all that simple. So many of us are insecure about who we are. There’s nothing wrong with us, we’re just brought up to believe that because we are grow up trying as hard as we can to conform to the incredibly harsh expectations of society. The very expectations that ultimately can’t even be defined because they’re all relative. We don’t realise that we’re fine the way we are because we’re born as unique individuals and that in itself makes us all perfect in our own different ways; but nobody truly believes that because we’re all hell bent on achieving societies definition of beauty- even if we end up hurting ourselves in the process.
Gerard Way, the lead singer of ‘My Chemical Romance’ (one of my favourite bands) once said, “ Would you destroy something perfect in order to make it beautiful?” This quote honestly speaks out to me because so many of us have set out on this unending quest for beauty when in actuality, we were all perfect to begin with. Why do numbers define us? What defines beauty? The number of likes on an Instagram post? The number of views on a snapchat story? The numbers you see on the weighing scale that you then use as an excuse to starve yourself? When will we realise that being beautiful isn’t real - it’s a socially constructed standard! We’re all perfect - we were born that way and it sickens me that worryingly very few of us are able to understand that - much less accept it. Worst of all, we just plaster a smile that gets seemingly wider as our self-esteem deteriorates.
We live in the 21st century and so medical advances are at their peak - mental illness can be medicinally treated once properly diagnosed. This treatment can then also be further assisted with the help of therapy. This, however, is only going to happen if the individual suffering speaks up about their condition. Look around you. 1 in 4 people are said to suffer from a mental illness throughout the course of their lives. Think of your household, think of your classes. 1 in every 4 people. How many people do you know? As much as a quarter of those people are suffering; are you even aware of it? However worrying this statistic may be, it only accounts for those who have been clinically diagnosed.
What about those who haven’t spoken up? How many more of us are suffering in the silence while the rest are left blossoming in the ignorance? We can’t know for sure because people are afraid to speak up. I like to think of repression as a balloon being filled with water. Think of the balloon as someone’s mind and the water as the negativity that is tied to mental illness. Now, imagine you are filling that balloon with water. Eventually, it gets full and can’t hold any more but you don’t close the tap. Eventually, the balloon is going to burst and that, is a mental breakdown. Even if you close the tap once it gets full, the balloon will still be delicate as ever and unable to contain itself. In the same way, people should feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems before they reach their breaking point but this is not happening. People are so terrified of being judged, or ostracised because of their problems that they get repressed - which only makes it worse. People are being pressured to hide their issues instead of speaking up about them and as a consequence, they are
made to suffer alone.
What I would like you all to take back from this would be a more open mind about the struggles that people face - particularly the ones that encircle mental disorders. Your best friend could be suffering and you might not even be aware of it. Our society is saturated with repression and the only thing we can do to counteract it would be to be more accepting of each other. Pay more attention to those around you. Emma Goldman once said “The most violent element in society is ignorance.” We need to start caring more about what people go through and stop turning a blind eye to our loved ones as they continue to silently destroy themselves. Nobody should ever have to suffer on their own.
There are 7.6 billion people and we’re still crying alone. It’s not okay. We’re not okay and we should be able to say that.
Our BTEC Creative Media Production students had the opportunity of a lifetime this weekend, working as the crew for Arusha's first ever TEDx event - TEDxMajengo.
Our Early Years Coordinator, Miss Lynsey Logan, was volunteering as Event Manager for the event and, seeing the incredible opportunity for our students to experience a real, creative media production environment, invited them to be the technical crew for the event.
The students took up the roles of camera operators, sound and light operators, projection assistants and runners and worked hard to professional standards all day to help the event run smoothly. Additionally, they had the opportunity to meet the speakers and curated audience of business owners, non-profit workers, teachers, designers and young entrepreneurs from around Arusha and Tanzania.
Now, having filmed all the amazing speakers at the event, the students will edit the talks for uploading to the official TEDx website. Watch this space for their own recounts of their experience in the coming weeks.
Fantastic work and well done to you all!
BISA students put our school mission statement of being responsible citizens into practise in a very practical and visible way on Wednesday 12th September. As part of World Clean Up Day 2018, our students got to work in the area around our school campus in Kisongo. Armed with trash bags, gloves and the will to make our community a cleaner and safer place, they collected bags and bags of litter and rubbish, from the surrounding area. Many of the students expressed disbelief and shock at just how much litter could be found dumped in drains and at the side of the road. Knowing that our precious environment could be treated in such a way only spurred them on to work harder on setting a good example and cleaning up our little corner of Arusha.
On 15th September 2018 millions of volunteers in 156 countries worldwide united to 'clean up the world' as part of one of the biggest civic actions in history, cleaning up litter and mismanaged waste from our beaches, rivers, forests, and streets. Aiming to tackle 'trash blindness', the World Clean Up Day movement recognises that, in order to truly create a world without waste, it will require a collective effort from all levels of society, from schools to high level officials.
|Trash blindness - a situation in which a society or its individual members are either:
- so used to their current waste pollution problem that they do not even notice it;
- consciously choosing not to recognise waste pollution, and/or the possible consequences of it, as a problem
Every year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste worldwide.
What can you do to reduce waste? Here are some simple, practical tips!
- Carry a reusable water bottle. Single use plastics like plastic water bottles are one of the biggest causes on waste on our planet.
- Take a reusable travel mug to the coffee shop, or make your coffee at home. Use a French press or coffee maker and avoid those single-serving packages.
- Take your own reusable containers to takeout restaurants. If you hand over the containers when you order and ask nicely, most restaurants will oblige you.
- Take your lunch to school or work in a reusable containter and avoid single-use packaging like plastic sandwich boxes.
- Stop using plastic bags and bring your own reusable bags to the store when you are doing any kind of shopping.
- When you eat out, say no to any single-use items like paper or plastic napkins, placemats, straws, cups and single-serving containers, if you can. Be sure to explain why!
- Don’t buy anything that comes in wasteful single-serving packages, like candy, gum, granola bars, popsicles, etc.
- Cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions and read them online or at the library.
- Use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling it or making it into upcycled crafts.
- Use old clothes for rags for cleaning around the house, instead of paper towels.
- Use cloth napkins and hand towels in your kitchen.
- Keep a worm bin or compost pile to compost all your food scraps, leftovers, floor sweepings, and more.
- Don’t buy anything disposable. Look for durable goods instead or borrow what you need. Paying a little more up front often means things will last much longer for you.
On Saturday, the 9th of September 2018, The Rotary Club Arusha organised a triathlon at ISM (Arusha Campus). Everyone from 8 year-olds to 50 year-olds attended and competed. The competitors arrived at 7:30 am, giving themselves half an hour to prepare before the competition began. The first to compete where the 8 year-olds teams, who astoundingly had to complete a lap in the pool, a lap around the ISM grounds on bike and then on foot, as fast as they could. Many of the parents supported their children by running alongside them, guiding them on the track and providing them with moral support.
Like clockwork, while the younger groups completed their races the older competitors began to race in their teams. Each of them completed 20 laps in the pool, cycled 15km around the ISM property and then ran 5 km. Positivity was in the air as the family feel and competitive spirit was prominent. Everyone was cheered on and encouraged to continue no matter their place or status as a competitor. One notable sports woman was our own Niamh Baker who, after she finished swimming her twenty laps helped a struggling competitor finish their own laps. – Report by Charis Pulei
Mr Wallace was once again our roving reporting athlete at the annual Rotary Triathlon. Enjoy his report from the day!
"A spectacular event for BISA! We were well represented across the age groups except under 8s who were enjoying themselves at the Welcome Picnic on the other side of town!
Amongst our many competitors, some special mentions must be made. Our admiration goes out to Sumeiya Ali who nobly and doggedly represented BISA amateur ladies despite little previous experience of swimming, cycling or running. Well done also to Emmanuel, Maleah and Leon who came second in the under 13s category. Another big well done goes to Yuri, Clinton and Niamh who came first in the Open Amateur category. We are also very proud of Finlay and Antonio who came first and second in the Open Individual category.
We can only assume after such success that our students will be competing in the elite category next year! :)
A hearty “Well done old chap,” also goes to Mr Wallace who managed to win the geriatrics category by not getting lost like the others.
We are looking forward to the next triathlon at Kennedy House in June. Time to get training! "
Our fantastic drivers are an essential part of the every day workings of BISA. Their job goes much further than simply driving our big yellow buses: they are the friendly face welcoming many of our children in the morning on their journey to school; they know every child's name on their bus; they make sure all the children arrive safely at school every morning and are safely delivered home at the end of the day; they accompany children on trips near and far. In short, they are part of our family.
Last week all of our drivers attended their annual safety training, ensuring that your children continue to be very safe when using our school transport. We take pride in the skills of our drivers negotiating the busy Arusha traffic and rough roads.
Please be sure to thank them for their tireless work the next time you see them!