On the 7th of December 2016, CandleX was invited to give a speech for a group of international and Chinese students at the Dulwich College Beijing. Dulwich College Beijing is a British international school with several campuses in Beijing, China. It has over 1400 students and cover primary school to high school education. The event on Wednesday was attended by 15-18-year-old students.
Xiaojie, Founder and Executive Director at CandleX, delivered a speech. The main goal of Xiaojie’s speech was to get the audience to understand the importance of mental health, as well as starting a conversation on emotional wellbeing in school for students. Xiaojie used interactive activities, visuals, and statistics to present the prevalence and severity of depression, geographic differences, as well as empirical evidence through CandleX’s work in Beijing.
Xiaojie started her speech by asking the audience to close their eyes, and then asked them to raise hands if they agree with certain casual questions. Gradually the questions are led to more personal and inquired about students’ mood. From the show of hands, it was obvious that the students are experiencing a broader range of emotions including frustration, anger, happy, anxiety, exhaustion, as well as happiness. Students were very open about recognizing negative feelings – more than half of the students raised their hands when asked about the feelings of sadness and anxiety. This is in line with many studies on teenagers who face overwhelming amount of pressure and expectation on school performances as well as personal growth.
Later on the speech transitioned into more statistics and facts-based part. Xiaojie focused on the key mental health facts directly relating to teenagers. The visual infographics and maps helped the pupils to understand the mental health issues facing their peers all around the world. Almost 50% of teenagers tend to experience feelings of anxiety or depression due to school stress, bullying, and other reasons.
Xiaojie also talked about her field trip experience in Yunnan, and the survey on mental health done in rural primary school. Students had a chance to think about the situation they’re in and also be grateful about all the resources available to them in the capital.
Students were also introduced to the work CandleX does in Beijing, especially the mental health support groups. Xiaojie stressed the importance of having a support system, and the positive impact it has on people suffering from mental illness. Furthermore, she highlighted that the mental health problems, such as depression, do affect those who seem to be the most successful in their career and personal life. Whoever that’s experiencing the symptoms should not feel ashamed.
The session ended with a short Q&A session during which students could inquire Xiaojie about the presentation, emotional wellbeing, and mental health. This speech was the first of its kind at the Dulwich College Beijing, which is a very important step towards understanding and raising awareness about mental health. It will take some time for students to understand everything, but it is, nevertheless, a seed that we plant in their minds. Hopefully, the students left the session with an understanding that mental health issues can happen to anyone, thus we need to learn and be compassionate to each other.
Dulwich College has been very proactive in supporting the children’s mental health wellbeing, which is essential to one’s long term development. We welcome more schools to collaborate on campaigning for mental health on campus. Please get in touch to organise a workshop.