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Interview

Fatimata Cham.

Interviewed by Shivani Dave from Revive’s Interview Team.


 I see that you are the founder of Muslims Matter… What motivated you to start this organization?

 I think it was like a year and a half ago, I was kind of just thinking to myself, there isn’t really like a space that I’ve seen at least that highlights authentic stories without building in like stereotypes, biases and prejudices about Muslims. So, I was thinking, why don’t I just create a page or like a platform that shares these people’s stories? And I thought a lot about it. Prior to college, I went to international boarding school. So, I was already surrounded by people of different cultures and backgrounds and ethnicities and I wanted to highlight that a lot with Muslims Matter, because I know that a lot of people may view Muslims as a monolith, even though we are diverse. There’s Muslims in America and Afghanistan and Europe, basically all over the world. So I wanted to share their stories and their experiences either, you know, even if it’s like a negative experience, like negative and positive experiences, either practicing like the Muslim faith or just experiences with Islamophobia or stereotypes and stuff that’s already.

How are you able to deal with all the hate in your organization?

I quite frankly didn’t take a while to be able to deal with a lot of negative comments and stuff. Even when I post, such as videos on my personal Instagram of me talking about issues or reciting poetry like not controversial, but like issues. I every now and then I’ll get comments from people who are I don’t even know, to describe them. But like you have opposing views, polarizing views than I do. And sometimes it is hurtful and I just kind of delete them or block them or just allow other people to engage in conversation with them. But I think for now, like as far as I’ve gotten older, I really quickly realize that sometimes you can pick and choose, like if you want to engage in that hate. And I’ve kind of just chosen to take a step back from it, because it’s always good every once in a while, to have conversations with people who are like you and have different opposing views. But then also you must be mindful about your own like mental well-being. So just trying to find a balance between engaging in conversation with those types of people and not.

What do you hope people come to understand when you look at your organization?

Yeah, I think what I hope people get away with is people’s individual stories and their backgrounds and the diversity that they bring to the table. But also, how I never like to judge a religious group by actions of other individuals. And I know that with any faith really in the world, that can have negative connotations based on individual actions. I think especially with Islam recently has really been huge with the media’s tropes and stereotypes that are perpetuated. Even with movies sometimes painting a negative light. But I just want people to see the human aspects and know that these are actual people, and these are the experiences. Basically, we are all different.

What advice would you give to someone who’s starting their own organization?

 I think the biggest advice is don’t limit yourself. I have had to kind of step back. This is all this work that I’m going through right now. But I think recently I have just been learning the importance of partnerships. And really, I feel like one way to really expand an organization is really looking for other organizations that are doing similar work as you and like seeing like, oh, how are they using their social media platforms? How are they using resources around them to kind of expand their network in their organization? Like valuable partnerships, you want long term partnerships. I know for a lot of times I’ve done collaborations in the past and it’s as if we do a collaboration and then we never talk again. So trying to find partnerships with other people and start building long term, because in the end, you never know where the other person’s organization is going to take them and if they know you along the way can definitely help.

How do you balance your personal life and your work life?

 If I was in a perfect world, I’ll be like, yes, I use my planner all the time. But the truth is, I think what’s really helped me stay sane and balanced all the stuff that I’m involved in outside, even my own individual work, has really been like prioritizing myself. And I know it sounds crazy. It’s like, oh, my God, you’re trying to have an impact on the world but you think of yourself? Like, what do you mean prioritization? I mean, I really noticed like how I never realized, how hard I was on myself and how much pressure I put on myself to make sure that I was always like showing up everywhere, showing up to every single meeting that I had planned and making sure that every single case that I did was like done perfectly or at least align with my schedule and stuff. And I think prioritizing myself has helped. I think also finding an organizational method that works for you. For me in the past, I always relied on the old school planner type stuff. But then I quickly realized that it does not really work for me. I like Google Calendar better. So really, just finding an organizational method that works best for you.

What inspired the idea of Topic Tuesday?

I was thinking, how can I not kind of just push people with large quantities of information all at once because I know that people can get overwhelmed with all the information. I was like, you know what? Maybe I should just dedicate days where we talk about different issues or topics that relate to my organization and the work that we do. So that’s kind of how I went about on Topic Tuesday. Just happened to be the day that I picked because I thought it sounded nice.

If you feel comfortable, do you mind talking about the issue in France of the ban of Hijabs?

So I’ve talked about this a lot before, but I think what’s going on in France is disheartening in a sense, because I feel like regardless of people’s fear, they should be able to practice it the way they want to. And I think for a lot of people, I feel like people think it’s just about the hijab. But what I want people to understand is that this is really about the weaponization of women’s bodies and people and governing bodies feeling like they meet the needs to control women’s bodies, really, because it’s no longer about  let’s take away the option, it is now you’re taking away the choice to wear the hijab. And if it’s really about liberating Muslim women, then you’d give them the choice. Right. So now you’re contradicting yourself. It’s no longer about, oh, Muslim women being oppressed because of their job. Now you’re completely taking away the choice. And now women who may have felt liberated wearing the hijab no longer have that liberty. I just found it really interesting lately just seeing the discourse surrounding the issue. And I completely am with my sisters and my Muslim friends in France who are like fighting against this issue.

What does freedom of speech mean to you?

Well, I think for me, like growing up here in America, I think I value that a lot because I think it’s allowed me to express myself and like to share my voice. I think oftentimes, yes, there are women of color who are subject to having their voice more surprised. But I feel like given the space and time and the time that we are living in, I do value it a lot because I think it gives me the space to talk about issues that I deeply care about and had not been in place. I feel like I would not be happy because I would have to suppress my thoughts and feelings. So, I do value freedom of speech.

What does Mental Health mean to you?

I value mental health and I think I’ve done well in the past. It hasn’t been something that I’ve talked about openly as much because I didn’t have the option to. I feel like I have been given the space to do so as much recently, which is great because I’ve just been really thinking about my mental health, especially during this pandemic for the past year and a half, being cooped up at home. It’s really been hard for me at first and I didn’t have the vocabulary to put into words like what it meant to me. But I think it’s something I deeply value is that I’m glad I was put in a situation where we are able to think about these things more. It’s something I just put on the backburner because I wanted to be a successful student and I wanted to be great at what I was doing, but at the expense of my mental health. I wasn’t really thinking about my wellness. And then it gets to a point where you hit a wall and you get burnt-out from everything, and that’s because you weren’t prioritizing your mental health. It’s definitely something I value. And I think people should really value it more and be openly talking about, because I think it’s something a lot of people don’t really recognize.


Check out Fatimata!

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Interview

Juliana Dawdy.

Interviewed by Shivani Dave from Revive’s Interview Team.


I see that you are the founder of Brains in Beauty… What inspired you to start this organization?

I’m one of those people who will wait for the “perfect” time to start. However, after seeing amazing female student-leaders doing great things through their organizations, I decided to stop overthinking and just start! Along the way I’ve learned a lot and grown, but that never would’ve happened if I didn’t just say “yolo”!

How did you come up with the name, Brains in Beauty?

I get this question a lot actually, but to be transparent, it just came to me! I like alliteration, and the name refers to the brains (or the scientists) in beauty (the cosmetics industry).

What are a couple of things you want consumers to keep in mind while purchasing cosmetic makeup?

Having chemicals in your products is OKAY! Some people have a stigma that cosmetics that are natural or organic are better, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a certain ingredient that makes a product safe or effective—it’s how its formulated. The whole purpose of cosmetic chemists is to make sure products execute certain functions AND are safe with the known standards! However, if you’re going to research a product or ingredients, get your information from reliable sources like scientists’ research papers.

What was your favorite post on Instagram to research about?

Probably my “Your Moisturizer is a H.O.E.” series! Usually, I don’t get to write too often because I’m directing other initiatives, but I was able to go back and learn into one of the first things I learned when I got interested in cosmetic chemistry.

What do you want people to know about Brains in Beauty?

You don’t need to be an aspiring cosmetic chemist to follow us! We strive to provide a variety of information that everyone—whether you’re into STEM or want to see how your favorite cleanser works—can learn something from.

What inspired you to create an organization of both Cosmetic and Chemistry? (It is not a very common field, so it’s very inspiring to see someone take the initiative to research something this unique!)

For the longest time, I felt like I had to choose between my passions of beauty, science, and design. Starting Brains in Beauty allowed me to demonstrate my preexisting knowledge and learn new things about all three simultaneously! 

What skincare products do you recommend the most? As well, what products do you recommend if someone is under a lot of stress?

I don’t have a specific brand of products I recommend; instead, I have recommendations for the types  of products everyone should use: a cleaner, moisturizer, and sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum). If you want to spice it up, add a product that treats a concern you have like discoloration, acne, or aging.

Stress has real effects on the skin! It releases a catalytic enzyme commonly known as cortisone reductase that turns inactive cortisone into active cortisol, which impairs the barrier function of the stratum corneum (uppermost) layer of skin. To preserve the barrier, it’s important to wear sunscreen and give your skin extra hydration through serums, slugging, or masks. (I like using sheet masks when my skin is struggling extra hard!)

How are you able to balance your work in the organization with your personal/social life?  

To be honest, this is still something I’m working on! Based on what’s happening in my life, sometimes I have to put some ideas or tasks for BIB on the backburner and vice versa. I find I balance better when I don’t overthink how big a task will take and when I prepare in advance.

What is one mistake you made while in the organization and how did you overcome it?

One mistake is not having an onboarding process! Clarifying roles, tasks, and team communications is super important for how smooth the organization runs, and I used to just wing it, which isn’t fair to others. I also like to establish a connection with the people I’m working with. Now, I have a one-on-one meeting where I clarify expectations soon after they join.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

Habits are really set in stone when you’re young, and your mental health affects the habits you adopt. Encouraging people to talk freely and nonjudgmentally about mental health, especially youth, helps them learn how to achieve and maintain a beneficial mental health. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, mental health means taking a break. It’s hanging out with my friends. It’s being gentle and patient with myself. Naturally, I’m a pretty anxious person, but since then, I’ve improved how I respond to stressful situations. Although it’s not a linear process, seeing how long I can go without a panic attack or without succumbing to my dermatillomania (stress-induced and unconscious skin-picking) is a goal I’m constantly reaching for!

Is there anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know about you?

I do a lot because I enjoy staying busy! However, I’m not perfect, and sometimes, my mental health is impacted because of all of my activities. But as someone who struggles with anxiety, I want to encourage you to learn more about how to manage your mental health! Organizations like Revive provide amazing and interesting resources that will push you to reach out and prioritize keeping your mentality healthy.

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Interview

Sneha Pasupula.

Interviewed by Ashna from Revive’s Interview Team.


Do you believe the government does enough for those with mental health conditions? Why or why not?

I do not believe the government does enough to help those with mental health conditions. Many acts of terror, such as mass shootings, happen as a result of both white supremacy and easy access to guns. These atrocities have been deteriorating the mental health of Americans nationwide. Regardless, the government has not taken enough action to break down the institutions that uplift white supremacy. Furthermore, the government continually fails to enact common-sense gun control, which leads to the worsening of gun violence in America, which contributes to America’s mental health crisis. On top of this, mental health care is inaccessible for Americans due to its high cost for those with or without insurance. To say to someone to “go to therapy” if they are struggling with mental health is insensitive, as it is difficult for many to afford it.  Without establishing universal healthcare, the government will only worsen this lack of access. 

How is school during COVID contributing to your overall health?

School during COVID has taken an enormous toll on my overall health, both physical and mental. Before COVID, I used to dance and sing 5+ times a week in school. Both of these activities helped me relieve stress and practice self-care even while dealing with anxiety. Since these activities are largely unavailable due to COVID, I found my anxiety to be heightened. Starting college didn’t help with that either, as getting thrown back into a learning environment after not having school for six months (my high school let seniors stop schoolwork in March due to COVID) made me question my own intelligence. Professors at my university were not as lenient as they should have been during a pandemic, resulting in a university-wide worsening of mental health. All students I know have been struggling with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression due to COVID, and the pressure of deadlines and other aspects of college only make it worse.

Why do you believe it is important for youth to get involved in politics?

The best way to get lawmakers to enact change is by pressuring them through direct action, such as protests and marches. Generation Z is a powerful age group, as they’ve had to grow up amidst numerous catastrophes yet have the drive to call for change. Furthermore, this generation is more socially and economically progressive than any other previous generation. The current youth don’t want minor, incremental reforms – they want transformative change that can tackle the institutions in the US that uplift white supremacy. Because the youth is such a large and growing voting block, they have the power to influence who gets into office and what policies are enacted. If this generation bands together and gets involved in politics, we can help shape the country we want to see – one that puts people over profits.

What steps do you take to get your voice heard?

Especially during this pandemic, social media has been a great way to have my voice heard. I frequently express my thoughts on US politics and social issues on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok. Back when I had school in person, I would regularly have conversations with my friends on social issues to both educate them and hear their opinions on the ongoings of US politics. Through these conversations, I help those around me understand the importance of civic engagement. The most important part of making your voice heard is to not silence yourself when those who disagree with you want to bring you down. Especially as a woman of color in the south, I’ve dealt with numerous right-wing people, especially men, who’d invalidate my opinion, call me uneducated, and do anything in their power to silence my leftist or progressive views. They’d yell random Trump quotes when they saw me in the hallway, and they’d cyberbully me on social media, posting negative comments on anything political that I’d post, they’d do anything to get under my skin. However, I didn’t let them stop me from voicing my concerns that I knew deserved to be heard.

How can one control their anxiety during COVID? 

As terrifying as it sounds, reaching out to others and creating support systems have helped me open up about my anxiety. By sharing my concerns and struggles with my friends, we have given each other coping strategies that have helped me control my anxiety during COVID. Also, UNC students are fortunate enough to have access to free short-term counseling and psychological services through our school, so taking advantage of those resources helps. While I get anxious looking at the increasing number of cases around the country, I help balance my anxiety by reminding myself that I am taking the measures I need to be COVID safe, such as staying home and getting vaccinated. Lastly, I find journaling to help me collect my thoughts when going through an anxiety attack. While I don’t journal as much as I should, I’ve found it to help calm my anxiety when I need to most. 

What activities do you do to release stress?

Sitting or standing outside in nature does wonders for stress-relieving. Just being able to take walks around the neighborhood and feel the fresh air helps me stay in the present. I also love to dance or sing when I get the chance, as expressing myself through art is one of the most natural things that comes to me. Lastly, I always love listening to nostalgic music: Taylor Swift, One Direction, you name it! As mentioned earlier, writing down my thoughts also helps me collect myself when I am really stressed.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

For many, including myself, poor mental health is the barrier between ourselves and who we want to be. The youth have so much potential to become impactful artists, engineers, doctors, policymakers, and more. However, a poor mental health can make one lose sight of their goals and dreams. For me especially, this pandemic has made it difficult for me to find the motivation I once had. By prioritizing mental health, we can help ourselves start the healing process from the collective trauma that COVID has brought us.

Is there anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know about you?

For those struggling with mental health issues, especially during this pandemic, I stand in solidarity with you and wish you the best. My mental health is far from perfect, and I still have a long way to go to reach recovery. I’d be lying if I said I wake up most days feeling super energetic, but I am healing through getting professional treatment and working on myself. Please remember that healing is not linear, and any relapses in mental health you have are valid.


Check out Sneha!

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Interview

Ramaya Thomas.

Interviewed by Kimberly from Revive’s journalism team.


How did Ramaya start WESPARKCHANGE

She and her cofounder started WESPARKCHANGE the summer of 2020 out of anger, frustration, and continued sorrow for the Black community in regards to police brutality and racial injustices. They started it by reaching out to peers and their communities to uplift their thoughts and opinions about what was going on and swiftly moved it onto a social media platform for people around the world. 

What does the organization stand for?

The mission of this organization is to invite the bright young minds of our future to progressive issues in order to cultivate an environment where youth are enlightened, educated, and most importantly empowered. This organization stands in sparking change and serving our communities. 

What are some things Ramaya did to become a Social Impact Honoree for The Conversationalist?

  • Co-founder of WESPARKCHANGE
  • Involved Atlanta community member/volunteer
  • Political and social justice journalist
  •  Representative in the media/radio stations 

What made you decide to start an organization?

One of the reasons I started an organization was because I knew that not only was my voice valuable but so many of my peers and many of us, especially my self were tired of feeling unheard and unnoticed. 

How has your mental health affected you during the BLM protests?

It honestly has been exhausting, mentally and emotionally I am tired of consistently seeing people who look like me die in their sleep, while running, at school, at stores, and more. It has made me fearful of having a Black father and baby brother not knowing if when they go to the grocery store will they be victims next. 

Have you ever experienced an attack of fear, anxiety, or panic?

Yes, I have experienced a plethora of attacks of fear, anxiety, and panic. It’s hard being Black in America not knowing any corner you take how my life will be in jeopardy. 

Can you tell me about any times over the past few months that you’ve been bothered by low feelings or stress?

I have felt a lot of stress from school and trying to be a social justice activist. I have honestly found it hard going on social media and then the only things I see are Black men and women dying at a heartbeat. 

I have also felt a lot of stress from reaching perfectionism in this awe of being successful throughout all the boundaries in America. 

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

Because it’s important for us to understand that it’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that is okay for us to be sensible and not desensitized to the norms of our society at large. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

Mental health because prioritizing self needs, thoughts, and emotions first for a person well being. It means feeling comfortable saying no, privatize self-care, and balancing a life that throws so much at us. It means staying in tune with myself.


Check out Ramaya and WESPARKCHANGE!

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Interview

Annie James.

Interviewed by Shivani Dave from Revive’s interview team


As one of the founders of Calm Harbor Counseling, why did you decide to create the organization? 

Calm Harbor Counseling is a private practice venture that differs slightly from most pages. A primary motive was to involve evidence-based practice: my “guide to” and “social science of” posts accrue information from relevant papers and translate it from higher-order form for a niche audience. 

It allows those searching for data regarding mental health access to contemporary higher-order information vis-a-vis mental health otherwise generally available behind a paywall. Higher-order posts are balanced by straightforward ones for readability and accessibility. A future venture involves including several Indian vernaculars for further accessibility. It is one of my deep regrets that CHC’s online presence is English-oriented in a geographical space abundant with sonically remarkable and impactful vernaculars. Vernaculars are the norm, not an anomaly, in my multicultural professional approach.

What were your favorite topics to research in your Instagram Page? (Please explain your topics in more detail)

Existential-depth psychology being my area of specialization, I gravitate towards related subject matter: existential anxiety, existential freedom, etc. However, I primarily focus on providing evidence-based, organized information regarding mental health conditions/issues and other related factors.

Related factor posts include: (1) colorism: a review of 3-5 papers on colorism and related mental health issues, (2) commercialized self-care. However, these are slightly more theoretical and hard to grasp. Admittedly, this limits the traction such posts gain. I spend time making posts directly involving mental health conditions (depression, disordered eating, loneliness) more accessible in terms of readability and content organization. I do not tend to have favorites, most of my posts arise from personal experience as a therapist in private practice, peer counseling, supervision, or recent reads. I tend to viscerally engage with particular subject matter and then translate it into higher-order, list, or organized posts according to the complexity I wish to address it with. 

What were some challenges you faced while being an online therapist?

An evident and recurring challenge is that I am in-adept in dealing with social media. I do not use social media, I am off-grid entirely on social media: I do not even have a LinkedIn profile or a private account. It is rather difficult to maintain an intrinsic motivation to post given my aversion to social media (I was quite the opposite about 4-5 years ago) and even determine what works/does not work.

What encouraged you to keep continuing on posting in your Instagram Page? 

I intend to provide a page that is well-curated and acts as a visible social footprint of research and mental health related matters that all individuals can access and browse through. The freedom and confidence that comes with self-assurance (non-comparison, not defining myself by numbers or engagement) encourages/facilitates my engagement with CHC’s Instagram page.

What inspired you to start writing your own newsletters?

A rather short answer: I used to run a message based newsletter to friends, peers, university groups during my MSc. I then transitioned to substack when it was recommended by a peer. It is mostly a selfish motive: I would like others to read what I believe are interesting and seminal papers whilst randomly including reflections/notes. I maintain an excel sheet of all the papers I have read since October 2020 (I am a tad lazy to go backwards and recollect all others across undergraduate and graduate years). 

It is often said that the level of competence one graduates with sustains for a few years into industry/9-5 work/outside-academia work and that is not something I wish to inculcate/propagate: I write for myself and for others who wish to engage with academic materials despite varying circumstances. However, my newsletter is excessively research and analysis oriented, so it is not great in terms of accessibility, unlike my Instagram page.

What are some tips you would give to those who are also starting their own newsletters?  

The explore-exploit rule: set a limit for how much exploration you might/ought to do before beginning production. Over-consumption/too much choice might strip one of self-confidence and lead to information/choice flooding.

I noticed that you included anime as a part of your selection in your round-ups. How and why did you decide to include this as a recommendation? 

My undergraduate degree was an Honors program in English literature. To retain the hermeneutic skills I treasure and excel at from that program, I frequently analyze texts of all natures. However, I do not listen to music (I do listen to pieces of art, occasionally), watch TV, or read fiction (I read fiction a few times a year now, including manga). 

Anime has been an interest since I was in my single digit age years and I maintain an excel sheet and MAL account with 350 anime, 530 manga, and variables such as studios, year, mangakas, seiyuus, etc. Since dropping other texts, anime has become my primary focus for hermeneutics outside of psychology. It allows me to simultaneously immerse myself in my primary hobby and advance my literary analysis, hermeneutics skills-set. My MAL has more blog posts and analyses of anime than my newsletter, sadly.

What does Psychology mean to you? 

A difficult question that deserves several points as an answer. However, it is, as I like to state, a “well of abstraction” within which I am a frog making meaning whilst trying to hop out to the sea.

Meanwhile, it is a source of knowledge for my own experiences of anxiety disorder not-otherwise specified, epilepsy, and BPPV.

What made you interested in Psychology?

Most of my work in my undergraduate degree was psychology oriented, including my first research paper: attachment in Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Raw Youth’, my dissertation: the Phylogenetics of Totalitarian Systems (which included supervision from the late philosopher, composer, pianist Ladislaus Horatius, my academic father, and father-figure), amongst others. I transitioned to counseling psychology in hopes of creating concrete change rather than focusing on armchair analysis/theorization as I did during my undergraduate years. 

What are some topics you wish people knew more about in Psychology? 

The biomedical aspects of certain conditions: the neuroanatomy, the biochemistry, and the like. It is not always easy to navigate mental health or therapy or change. Certain mechanisms are out of the control of human beings and the gravity of those mechanisms is visible in the biomedical aspects that are not often spoken of. 

Why do you think it’s important for someone to talk to a therapist if they’re feeling stressed or burnout? 

Therapy is a rare experience of being, being-in-relation, with a trained professional that respects, understands, and accepts your expertise, autonomy, and identity. It is important to reach out when in need, as is the case sometimes during burnout, stress, or even otherwise, to explore an avenue of growth, insight, and change that is evidence-based, freeing, and accepting.

What are some tips you encourage people to do when they are upset or angry?

It is hard to give generalizing responses as a therapist who has not yet had a decade of work under her belt, but a tip might be: develop awareness of what triggers feelings of upset/anger. What might underlie it? In practice, I work with proximal (immediate) and distal (over longer periods of time) interventions. List out things that can be done immediately and over time, do a trial-and-error experiment to see which one works for you and doesn’t, then repeat the effective ones (appropriate to the situation). 

Each individual’s phenomenological experience of a universal emotion (anger, upset) differs, therefore, the answer/effective tips will too. 


Check out Calm Harbor Counseling!

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Interview

Allene Yue.

Interviewed by Joyce from Revive’s interview team.


In your opinion, why do you think mental health is an aspect that’s neglected in society? How can we change the perception of mental health problems? 

I think mental health is rarely talked about because it can be a scary topic for many people. A lot of the time, people want to present the best side of themselves, especially because society pressures them to, but when everyone shows only what they want others to see, it leaves no room to show any imperfections. This unfortunately leads an even larger problem, because when practically no one talks about their mental health or their struggles, we often forget that they exist or are simply too afraid or too embarrassed to speak up about our own experiences or reach out for help, as it makes it seem like we’re alone in our struggles.

How can high school students help to destigmatize mental health? 

 I believe that by having more students share their stories and experiences with mental health and being fully honest about all of it, more and more people will be open to reaching out for the help they need and be more encouraged in knowing that they aren’t alone. This is why I think building communities, especially of youth, where people are honest, understanding, and not afraid to talk about their mental health or experiences is essential toward destigmatizing mental health.

What tips do you have on self-care, self-love, or mental health?

As a high school student, I know school, extracurriculars, and any other type of work or peer pressure can bring about a lot of stress. While setting high goals for yourself is a good thing, it’s still important to remember to take breaks and understand your limits. Even if it’s just 5, 10 or 30 minutes, taking time out of your day, away from all forms of stress, is essential toward caring for your mental health. 

How did you find the importance of mental health?

For a lot of my life, I was entirely clueless about what mental health was or how and why it was important. It wasn’t until high school when I felt a lot more pressure, especially while attending a competitive school and beginning to set higher goals for myself. However, I found myself coming across content on various platforms of more and more people speaking up about mental health with experiences similar to mine, while also finding content about mental health disorders and issues I had never heard of before. Finding this type of content was like a reminder for me to take a step back and prioritize my own mental health, while also showing me just how important it is to spread mental health awareness so that it doesn’t have to be such a hidden and misunderstood topic. By simply seeing that I wasn’t alone, it gave me the confidence to feel more comfortable about my own struggles.

Please tell us more about Self Care Support! What sparks the idea of a mental health organization? How does it help people? 

I actually started Self-care Support as a small project last year because of the pandemic, in 2020. I entered my idea for this organization into a competition and managed to win a $1,000 grant to put my plan into motion. I specifically wanted to create a mental health organization because I knew that the pandemic has had such a huge impact of people’s mental health this past year, especially for students while transitioning from in-person to online learning and while having to stay away from friends and support groups. I wanted to create Self-care Support to not only spread mental health awareness, but to also inspire youth to make the most out of their time, despite the pandemic, by making a difference in their communities. We strive to create a community of youth, entrepreneurs, and changemakers, where we not only share content recognizing and explaining mental health, but we also share the stories and advice of the people within our community. We have various initiatives to move toward this mission, including Supporting Students, where we feature organizations that provide helpful content or opportunities for high-school students, along with daily mental health challenges, a podcast interviewing female leaders, a small business spotlight, and mental health curricula and activity lesson plans for teachers to use in their classes.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

Today, there is so much pressure on students to juggle numerous things at once–school, extracurriculars, work, sports–and that pressure is fueled not only by expectations from teachers and parents, but also the desire to “fit in” and rise to the top when comparing yourself to others. But when the ultimate goal becomes doing whatever it takes to be the best, you easily forget that you’re still so young and shouldn’t have to overwork yourself at such a young age. It’s great to tackle new challenges while still young, but these things can often get in the way of being truly happy or having a healthy mind. By prioritizing your own mental health, you can take away some of that stress and pressure that might be overtaking your life and outlook. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

In simple terms, mental health is the state of my wellbeing. For me, it’s all about finding what makes me happy, knowing my limits, and being able to honestly say that I am good enough without having to compare myself to others or meet someone else’s expectations.


Check out Allene & Self Care Support!

Categories
Interview

Krisha Khandelwal.

Interviewed by Adelaide Ng.


What advice would you give someone who is currently experiencing mental health struggles?

Get Help. The best advice that I can give to anyone who is currently experiencing mental health issues is to let people who are close to you know what you are feeling, and to ask them for help. Break the stigma surrounding mental health conversations, and openly tell people who are close to you what you are going through. Asking for help is not something to be ashamed of, but instead you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to do so.

Why do you think the stigma surrounding mental health is so heightened?

People are embarrassed to talk about their mental health issues mainly because they are afraid of what other people will think about them. When it comes to mental health, there is a
lack of education and awareness, and many a times, there is a fear of people with mental illnesses. All of these things only add to the stigma surrounding mental health.

How do stigmas affect mental health victims?

The stigma surrounding Mental Health can lead to people feeling shameful, hopeless, and isolated when they are facing mental health problems. It also makes people afraid to ask for help or to get treatment.

How do you personally cope with school-related stress?

Being a full time student as well as an international chess player, Indian classical singer, and an executive director of a successful international non-profit organization, I certainly have a lot on my plate. The best way for me to cope with stress is by prioritizing. Prioritizing is an important skill and I strongly believe that if you make time for what you believe is important,
there will be time for everything. I also make sure that I give myself a break every now and then in order to avoid burning myself out.

How do you think schools should improve their mental health programs? How can they support students who are combating mental health conditions?

All schools should educate staff, parents, and students on symptoms of mental health problems, and train them on how to provide basic help for anyone facing mental health issues. They should also promote social and emotional wellness, and have a wellness center on-campus, designed by and easily accessible to all students.

What self-care practices would you recommend?

Some self care practices that I would highly recommend are: having a sleep routine, exercising regularly, and taking breaks as and when needed.

Do you believe that support systems are important?

I certainly believe that having a support system is really important. Having a good support system of people that you like, respect and trust plays a really important role in recovering
from a mental illness.You should always have people in your life whom you feel comfortable talking to about what you’re experiencing and whom you can ask for any help or support you
may need.

Other than mental health, are there any global issues that you are especially concerned about?

Apart from Mental Health, a global issue that really concerns me is bullying. Having been a victim of bullying myself, I know how hard it is for victims to deal with bullying, and how you dread going to school, how you feel helpless when you are being verbally abused and when you are being pulled down or cornered, and how your anxiety builds up. I’ve been through it. In order to help defeat bullying, I founded my own non-profit organization, Let’s Defeat Bullying. You can learn more about this org bu checking out our website-
https://www.letsdefeatbullying.com/


Check out Krisha and Let’s Defeat Bullying!

Categories
Perspective

100 MUST WATCH Movies About Psychology

Written by Alice Palioura

Truth be told, not all movies are realistic when depicting mental health issues. That is because the actors probably don’t suffer from a mental health disorder or just don’t know much about psychology. Nonetheless, anyone who wants to get more educated and indulged in psychology should start by watching some movies that will allow him to be sensitized and get a first glimpse of the laws of psychology and how each mental health issue may look like. Below are 100 movies and their themes:

  1. Silver Linings Playbook- Bipolar disorder
  2. A beautiful mind- Schizophrenia
  3. What about Bob- Anxiety
  4. The skeleton twins- Depression
  5. 12 angry men- Social psychology
  6. 28 days- Substance abuse disorders
  7. Enough- Domestic violence
  8. Notebook- Alzheimer’s disease
  9. Rain man- Autism
  10. As good as it gets- Obsessive compulsive disorder
  11.  Jacob’s ladder- Post traumatic stress disorder
  12. Split- Dissociative identity disorder
  13. Still Alice- Alzheimer’s disease
  14. Black swan- Psychosis
  15. Regarding Henry- Retrograde amnesia
  16. Reign over me- Post traumatic stress disorder
  17. Requiem for a dream- Addiction
  18.  Canvas- Schizophrenia
  19. Gone with the wind- Narcissistic personality disorder
  20. Annie Hall- Generalized anxiety disorder
  21. Mozart and the whale- Asperger’s syndrome
  22. To the bone- Anorexia
  23. Danish girl- Gender dysphoria
  24. The perks of being a wallflower-Depression
  25. It’s kind of a funny story- Depression
  26. Melancholia-Depression
  27. The platform-Social psychology
  28. The vow-Dementia
  29. Amadeus-Delusional disorder
  30. What’s eating Gilbert Grape-Intellectual disability
  31. Forrest Gump-Intellectual disability
  32. The lighthouse of the Whales-Autism
  33. Love and other drugs-Parkinson’s disease
  34. Ragin Bull-Intermittent explosive disorder
  35. The departed-Antisocial personality disorder
  36. Unforgiven-Antisocial personality disorder
  37. The butterfly effect-PTSD, Schizophrenia
  38. Hide and seek-Dissociative identity disorder
  39. Kramer vs Kramer- Psychology of divorce
  40. Secret obsession-Amnesia, PTSD
  41. The dream team- Psychiatric hospital
  42. Gone baby gone-Addiction, neglect
  43. The soloist- Schizophrenia
  44. Driving miss Daisy-Alzheimer
  45. Iron Lady-Alzheimer
  46. The help-Racism
  47. We need to talk about Kevin-Antisocial personality disorder
  48. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind-Generalized anxiety disorder
  49. Identity-Psychosis
  50. On golden pond-Dementia
  51. Memento-Amnesia
  52. The blind side-Family dynamics
  53. The hurricane-Discrimination
  54. Good Will Hunting-PTSD, Borderline personality disorder
  55. Ordinary people- Depression, Anxiety
  56. Save the last dance-Peer violence
  57. Girl, interrupted-Borderline personality disorder
  58. A clockwork orange-Antisocial personality disorder
  59. Take shelter-Schizophrenia
  60. The deer hunter-PTSD
  61. A woman under the influence-Psychosis
  62. Room-Captivity, PTSD
  63. I am not your negro-Racism
  64. Side effects-Antisocial personality disorder
  65. The headless woman-PTSD
  66. Prozac nation-Autobiographical, Depression
  67. Psycho-Schizophrenia
  68. The fire within-Alcoholism
  69. Mulholland Dr.-Narcissistic personality disorder
  70. Se7en-Antisocial and borderline personality disorder
  71. Clinical- PTSD, psychiatric patients
  72. Wounds-PTSD
  73. Fractured-Amnesia, grief
  74. The girl on the train-Depression, Alcoholism
  75. Escape room-Social psychology
  76. Freud-History of psychology
  77. The devil and Daniel Johnston-Bipolar disorder
  78. Shame-Borderline personality disorder
  79. Fight club-Dissociative personality disorder
  80. Pink Floyd: The wall-Social psychology
  81. The morning after-Drug abuse
  82. Lake city-Family dynamics
  83. My name is Bill W.- Alcoholism
  84. When love is not enough- Alcoholism
  85. Harold and Maude- Suicide
  86. Leaving Las Vegas- Suicide, Alcoholism
  87. The madness of King George- Bipolar disorder
  88. Benny and Joon- Schizophrenia
  89. Patch Adams- Depression
  90. The basketball diaries- Drug abuse
  91. It’s a wonderful life- Suicide
  92. After life- Down syndrome
  93. Spider- Schizophrenia
  94. Wonder- Bullying
  95. A girl like her- Bullying
  96. American psycho- Narcissistic personality disorder
  97. Shutter island- Delusional disorder

   For the closure, I left my personal top three movies. Number three is no other than: One flew over the cuckoo’s nest (1975). It’s about a psychiatric hospital still using abuse and medication as a form of compliance. A man from the prison is being transferred there in hopes that it will be better than prison. My second best is I am Sam (2001), a touching movie about an intellectually disabled man who raises his daughter by himself, the struggles he faces as his daughter grows up and the discrimination by society. Finally, there is: The silence of the lambs (1991), referring to a top student from the FBI training who interviews a psychiatrist who is also a cannibalistic serial killer, hoping he knows information about another case. It’s undeniably a psychological thriller that keeps everyone on the edge of their seats the whole duration.

Categories
Study

Types of Psychology

Written by Melisa Shafiee

Psychology. To a general audience, words like “therapy,” “mental disorders,” or “the brain” may come to mind. While these three words certainly connect to psychology in some way, it is essential to know that psychology is a more extensive field than it seems. Believe it or not, some types of psychology involve crime, sports, and even technology. This article will dive deep into ten different, fascinating types of psychology, and introduce you all to fields that you may not have known existed. Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in psychology, or are curious to learn more about the variety of existing fields, this article is one that your brain will appreciate. 

Behavioral Psychology

Why do we reward ourselves after doing something positive? Or, why do we often replicate the behaviors of our parents or relatives? Behavioral psychology explores the answers to these questions, and focuses on how our mind controls the behaviors that we do. The goal of behavioral psychologists is to predict the behaviors and habits of humans, as well as treating patients with behavioral disorders, such as ADHD or OCD. Behavioral psychologists also explore how we learn common behaviors and habits, which occurs through processes such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning. One of the most notable contributions to behavioral psychology is Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment, in which he proved that children model adults’ acts of aggression, which influences their behavior. 

Clinical Psychology

For those interested in diagnosing and treating psychological disorders, clinical psychology is likely to be most appealing. Clinical psychologists work with patients and conduct tests to discover what mental disorder they may be experiencing. They will then create a treatment plan to cure the patient as proper as possible. Clinical psychologists work firsthand with patients with various disorders, such as BPD or major depressive disorder. If learning about psychological disorders is intriguing to you, then this may be a suitable path.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology goes deep into the mind, and studies how we process, remember, and communicate information. Cognitive psychologists have various duties, such as researching the brain, conducting experiments, or treating patients with cognitive disorders. Cognitive psychologists may also test intelligence, and investigate how we “know” information. Another interesting aspect of cognitive psychology is that it sometimes focuses on states of consciousness, and even our dreams. If you want to learn why we think the way we do, or if you are passionate about neurology, cognitive psychology could definitely be a field of interest. 

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology focuses on treating patients who are in a difficult mental state. It is most similar to the “therapy” that we often hear of. Unlike clinical psychology, people who see a counseling psychologist do not need to have a mental disorder. Counseling psychologists work with and listen to patients to help them overcome their mental challenges, and will recommend a plan for the patient to relieve their stress and improve their sense of self. Counseling psychologists may specialize in marriage, grief, or helping youth improve their mental health. There is unfortunately still a stigma over the concept of counseling in some cultures. However, the work of counseling psychologists has been proven to work numerous times,  and they help create a healthier society each day. 

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists investigate how we develop and change as we become older. They study characteristics of people at each stage of life, from infancy to elderhood. Not only do developmental psychologists learn how our minds change over time, but they also learn how our body and emotions change as well. Though a lot of the work of developmental psychologists involves studying data or conducting experiments, they may also treat patients with developmental delays or disorders. A specific idea pertaining to developmental psychology is a critical period, meaning that children have a certain amount of time in their life to learn how to fluently speak a language, or they may never learn how to speak one at all. 

Forensic Psychology

If you have fallen in love with true crime podcasts over quarantine, forensic psychology may be a fantastic career field to explore. Forensic psychologists are well-educated on the legal system, criminology, and psychology, and their work requires knowledge of all three fields. Forensic psychologists may question criminals to discover their true motivations, conduct research before a trial, or even work with law professionals to teach them how to investigate a crime scene. It is important for forensic psychologists to know how to read facial expressions, as non-verbal cues can reveal extraordinary details of a criminal. 

Health Psychology

Health psychologists play a significant role both in psychology and in the medical. Their work mainly pertains to how biological, psychological, and social factors influence our health, specifically how we become sick. They also study psychology’s role in creating behavioral medicine. On the direct level, health psychologists help people make healthier choices that benefit both their bodies and their daily lives. They may help guide patients with addiction or eating disorders on their path to recovery, and change their lives for the better. A notable health psychologist is Kelly Brownell, whose work has contributed to the actions made against obesity, such as the implementation of taxes over high-calorie foods and drinks. 

Personality Psychology

Personality psychologists focus on how our traits and characteristics make us unique. They study how people differentiate from each other by using various theories, including the Big 5 personality factors, which include extraversion and conscientiousness. Personality psychologists also discover how biological, psychological, and social factors all influence our personality, as our genes, our mind, and society all play a massive role. These psychologists may work mostly on research, but they also can help treat patients with personality disorders. Many of us have heard of Sigmund Freud, who created the notable psychodynamic theory in which our personality is influenced by our unconscious. If you are interested in learning about how individuals are the way they are, then personality psychology may be most appealing for you. 

Social Psychology

Social psychologists primarily focus on how society and social factors influence our actions, behaviors, and personalities. Social psychology is commonly confused with sociology, and it is important to know that social psychology focuses on society’s impact on an individual, while sociology focuses on societal patterns as a whole. Social psychologists may work directly with patients to improve their attitudes, decision-making, and understanding of society. Social psychologists also research societal influence over humans by observing prejudice and stereotypes, and specifically focus on how these factors impact each person. Social psychologists must have a deep understanding of society, and an even deeper understanding of its weight on the human mind. 

Sports Psychology

Wait, sports and psychology? Is that even real? Well, it is! Sports psychologists work with athletes to help them improve their performance during matches. They specifically study how sports influence our minds, and how our mind influences our performance in sports. Sports psychologists help athletes improve their performance in all aspects, from recovering from injuries to collaborating with a team. Psychology as a larger impact on sports than many of us may imagine: the next time you are watching a March Madness basketball game, think about the role a sports psychologist has made into the performance of your favorite team. 

Categories
Study

Human Growth and Development

Written by Simran Johal

Prenatal development is the process in which we see a baby undergo a process of growth and development within the womb fertilization until birth. There are three main stages in prenatal development: Germinal Stage, Embryonic Stage and the Fetal Stage. Let’s look into the Germinal Stage. 

    The way a plant seed germinates in soil, a sperm cell germinates amongst an egg. During this stage, the organism begins cell division and growth. It’s about 14 days in length and lasts from conception to the implantation of the zygote. The zygote is the fancy way of saying a fertilized egg. Differentiation of the cells begins to occur. This is when all the cells necessary for the placenta, umbilical etc. will begin to differentiate from the embryo. It estimates that about 60% of natural conceptions fail to implant in the uterus. 

    The Embryonic Stage is a process required in order to create an embryo. It begins once an organism is implanted in the uterine wall and stays attached until birth. It lasts from the third week to the eighth week of prenatal development after the initial conception. During this stage, cells will continue differentiating and at roughly 22 days after impregnation, the brain begins to slightly form (in the form of tubes) which is the very first step of brain development, and also the spinal column where cells enclose the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding it. There are two major directions in which growth occurs for the Embryonic Stage. The first being Cephalocaudal Development. This is where a gradual change in the head size to the body size occurs. Then the second, which is when, the muscular controls of the arms relative to the hands and fingers grow. The head develops in the fourth week, during this stage, and a pulse begins. In the early stages of Embryonic development, gills and tails are apparent (due to evolution). In this stage, the mother doesn’t usually know that she is pregnant. It’s during this period that the major structures of the body are beginning to form. The embryo is approximately 1 inch long in length and weighs about 4 grams at the end of this period. The embryo can move and respond to touch at this time. A rough sequence of development during the Germinal stage is as follows.

    During week three, the heart, brain, blood cells, spinal cord, circulatory system and digestive system begin to form. During week 4, the arm and leg buds (limbs), facial structures and bones begin to develop. The heart continues to develop. As does the brain and nervous tissue. The heart begins to beat. During week 5, the eyes, kidney nose, lungs continue to develop. The heart, brain, nervous tissue and digestive tract begin development. During the sixth week, digits, feet and hands begin to develop. The brain, heart and circulatory systems keep on developing. In the seventh week, hair follicles, nipples and sex organs begin to develop. In the eighth, and final week of the Embryonic Stage, facial features become more distinct, internal organs become well-developed, the brain can signal for muscles to move, hear development is completed and sex organs begin to form outside the body. Next, we move to the fetal stage. 

    The fetal stage begins at the ninth week and continues until birth. This is where the organism is referred to as a fetus. Majors structures are beginning to develop and by the twelfth week, the fetus has all its body parts )including external genitalia). In the following weeks, the fetus will develop hair, nails, teeth and the excretory and digestive systems will continue to develop. At the end of the week 12, the fetus weighs roughly 28 grams and is roughly 3 inches. A rough sequence of development during the Fetal stage is as follows.

    From weeks 9-12, the fetus is roughly 8cm in length and we can see the beginnings of teeth start to appear. Features such as the face, neck, eyelids, limbs, digits, and genitals are well formed. The beginnings of teeth appear, and red blood cells begin to produce in the liver. The fetus is able to make a tiny fist. During weeks 13-15, the fetus reaches roughly 25cm in length. Super fine hair begins to develop on the head, we see structures such as the lungs, sweat glands, muscles, and bones continue to develop, the fetus is able to swallow. At weeks 16-20, the fetus reaches roughly 20cm in length. Fine hair begins to cover all skin surfaces and fat begins to develop under the skin. Features such as fingers and toenails, eyebrows and eyelashes appear. The fetus becomes more active, and the mother can sometimes begin to feel kicks at this stage. From the weeks 21-24, the fetus reaches roughly 28.5 cm in length and begins to weigh approximately 0.7 kg. Hair grows longer on the head, the eyebrows and eyelashes finish forming. The lungs continue to extensively develop and the eyes finish developing. In the weeks 25-28, The fetus approaches roughly 38cm in length and weighs approximately 1.2kg. The next few weeks mark a period of rapid brain and nervous system development. The fetus gains control of other movements (opening and closing eyelids). The lungs have developed significantly so that the air breathing is possible. Weeks 29-32, the fetus reaches roughly 38/43 cm in length and weighs approximately 2kg. Under the skin, fat becomes more defined. The lungs remain immature but breathing movements do begin. The fetus’s bones are developed but have not yet hardened. In the weeks 33-36, the fetus reaches roughly 41/48cm in length and weighs 2.6-3.0kg. Body fat continues to increase under the skin. Fine hair begins to disappear, and fingernails are fully grown. The fetus has gained a high amount of control over body functions. Finally, from weeks 36-38, the fetus approaches, 48-53 in length. The first fine hair all over the body has mostly disappeared and is replaced with thicker hair on the head. Fingernails have grown past the tips of the fingers. In a healthy fetus, all organ systems are functioning. 

    There are indeed mental health issues that can occur prior to birth. Schizophrenia is thought to be genetic, consequently it occurs in our genetic makeup before we’re born. People whose mothers were undernourished while pregnant had a significantly increased risk of major affective disorders, such as mania and depression; sometimes severe enough to require hospitalization. Exposure to stress during pregnancy can cause things like autism, depressions. Anxiety and mood disorders. 

    Infancy and Toddlerhood is the type of growth occurring in children from the ages of zero to thirty-six, this includes emotional, behavioural,physical and mental growth. Culture, environment socioeconomic status or genetic factors can influence things such as when a child will begin to walk, crawl or talk. In the early 20th century, child development scholars began to understand that children weren’t just childre but actual individuals with their own unique personalities and distinct needs. The majority of infants are alert and beginning to act just hours after a normal birth, even though their body systems are immature. The sense of smell and taste are also evidently established. Infants/Toddlers will turn away from unpleasant smells and sometimes express a preference for sweet tastes as opposed to something that is more bitter tasting. Between two and three months, newborn reflexes begin to disappear. They cry less and begin to engage in social smiling. Infants entertain themselves with their own features (fingers and toes). At four months old, vision improves, infants pay attention to bright objects, preferring primary colours (particularly red). One study showed that infants were shown both symmetrical and asymmetrical faces expressed a preference for the symmetry of faces that have been identified as “attractive” by adults. However, between the ages of five and eight months, infant preferences were for asymmetrical faces. 

    Parents’ relationships with their children play a vital role in the mental health of infants and toddlers. Indications of mental health issues amongst infants or toddlers could be visible through their problems with sleeping and/or feeding or, if they over-respond or under-respond to the things around them. It can be difficult to diagnose an infant because you can’t explicitly tell what they feel or think. Normal development looks different in children, how do you know if your child’s behaviour is anything that should cause concern? A doctor can work to see what else may be causing or adding to the infant’s problems. This can take a long time, but it’s important as a diagnosis will help connect with treatment options and take actions early. 

    During early childhood, healthy development provides good building blocks for educational achievement, productivity, and helps them become a responsible ordinary citizen in their community and successful parenting of their children. During early childhood, children need nutrition, protection and stimulation for successful and healthy brain development. The earliest years are when babies’ brains form new connections. Poverty is such an important and common factor as to whether or not children receive the stimulation and nutrition they need. “250 million children under five in low-and middle-income countries risk not reaching their development potential because of extreme poverty and stunting.” The most disadvantaged children are less likely to have access to the things needed for a healthy development, for example, neglect and abuse, extreme stress: these kinds of things can block a healthy development. There is minimal public understanding of the importance of a child’s first years and little demand for policies, programs and funding. Here are some of the key facts regarding human growth and development in early childhood. 

    Lack of nutrition in early childhood leads to stunting, which globally affects nearly one-in-four children younger than five. Risks associated with poverty – such as undernutrition and poor sanitation – can lead to developmental delays and a lack of progress in school. Silent discipline is widespread in many countries, and nearly 7% of children between two and four were yelled at or screamed at in the past month. 300 million children younger than five have been exposed to societal violence. For a child in a low, or middle, income country, poor early development could mean they earn around one-quarter less in income, as an adult. For a country, poor and early childhood development could mean economic loss; in India, the loss is about twice the gross domestic product spent on health. 

    So what’s the solution to all of this? Interventions at the right time can sushion all of this development, break intergenerational cycles of inequity and provide a fair start in life. For babies born into poverty or deprivation, intervening early can reverse harm because that is when the brain is developing rapidly. 

    By middle childhood, children can dress themselves, play games such as catch and potentially, hopefully, tie their own shoes etc. It is important to make sure that children have independence from family becomes more important as children are brought into contact with the larger world. At this time, physical, social and mental skills develop quickly and thus, friendships become more important. It is eally important for children to develop confidence in all areas of life. Children might start to think more about the future and understand more about their place in the world. They’ll pay more attention to things such as friendship and want to be liked and accepted by friends. They also learn better ways to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings, they become more empathetic and show more concern for others. 

    What should parents be doing when their child is approaching middle childhood? They can do things such as; showing more affection for your children, recognizing their accomplishments, help your child develop a sense of responsibility (i.e. chores), talk to your child about school, friends and the things he or she looks forward to in the near or far future, help them set achievable goals, make clear rules and stick to them (be clear about what behaviour is okay and not okay), do fun things as a family, get involved with their school, continue reading to them, use discipline to guide and protect your child rather than punishment to lower their self esteem, praise your child for good behaviour, support your child taking on new challenges and encourage your child to join school and community groups, such as a team sports, or to take advantage of volunteer opportunities, children in this age group might start to form stronger “more complex friendships and peer relationships. It becomes more emotionally important to have friends, especially of the same sex”. Please do keep in mind that many children cognitively and physically developing may experience mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, eating disorders and, you should be careful as to how you approach certain situations with your child as you may have no idea what they’re going through. 

    During adolescence, children begin to develop the capacity for abstract and logical thought. They have an enhanced awareness of themselves and ability to reflect empathetically onto their actions. Self awareness often turns into self consciousness and for adolescents, there is potentially a preoccupation with physical appearance, attractiveness and a heightened sensitivity to differences from peers: not always but sometimes. Right and wrongs for adolescents is fixed and absolute. Older adolescents, often question standards of behaviour and may reject traditions. The people in this age group find schoolwork that is more complex, they’re able to identify areas of interest as well as relative strengths and weaknesses. This is a period of time in which many people in this age group begin to consider career options. Many adolescents begin to engage in risky behaviours such as fast driving, experimenting sexually, risky sexual practices, illegal activities, theft, alcohol and drug use. 

    The areas of the brain that control emotions develop and mature. Although adolescents, do learn to gradually control/suppress inappropriate thoughts and actions and replace them with goal-oriented behaviours. The emotional aspect of this growth is often very trying, often with the patience of parents, teachers and other adults/authoritarians. Communication, even within stable families, can be difficult and is worsened when families are divided or parents have emotional problems of their own. 

    Family is at the center of social life for children. During the time period of adolescence, the peer group begins to replace the family as the child’s primary social focus. Peer groups are often established because of distinctions in dress, appearance, attitudes, hobbies. Adolescents who find themselves without a peer group may develop intense feelings of being different and alienated. Gang membership is more common when the home and social environment are unable to counterbalance the dysfunctional demands of peer groups. 

    Doctors should screen all adolescents for mental health disorders such as: depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Substance abuse typically begins during adolescence, this isn’t to marginalize anyone, it is simply a statistic. More than 70% of adolescents in the United States try alcohol before they graduate high school. Somes statistics show that adolescents who start drinking alcohol at a young age are more likely to develop an alcohol disorder as an adult. For example, adolescents who start drinking at age 13 are 5 times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder than those who start drinking at 21. Almost 50% of US adolescents try cigarettes, over 40% try electronic cigarettes, and more than 40% try marijuana while they are in high school. Use of other drugs is much less common, although misuse of prescription drugs, including drugs for pain and stimulants, is on the rise.

Our psychological and physical development go hand in hand and for one to thrive or even survive the other must do the same. We need to take care of ourselves as well as we do physically, mentally and vice versa. Be a support system for loved ones.