World Health Day, celebrated globally on the 7th of April 2017, is a day that marks the founding anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), while also being an occasion to talk about specific health related topics in an attempt to raise awareness and tackle serious health issues. The theme of this year’s World Health Day was ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’, with a special emphasis upon the mental health disturbances that affect people of all ages and from all over the world. The objective of the campaign was to draw attention towards this preventable and treatable disease that is affecting a vast majority of the population.

Coca-Cola Pakistan’s proudly sponsored project, the National Volunteer Programme, has recently collaborated with many of its beneficiary institutions in a bid to uplift and enhance their outreach, in the spirit of volunteerism.  And recognizing the importance of World Health Day, the NVP  team, along with  its highly credible volunteer consultant and public health physician, Dr. Farhan Abdul Rauf and the team at Zindagi Trust SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls School, held a Mental Health Workshop as a training session for teachers from various schools under beneficiary institutions on how to identify and manage mental health issues in students.  Teachers from 11 schools including Rana Liaquat Craftsmen’s Colony – RLCC, Zindagi Trust (Khatoon-e-Pakistan and SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls School), four campuses of Behbud Association, Justuju Welfare Organization School, Nobel Academy, Habib Public School as well as The Garage School attended and actively participated in the event.

Dr. Farhan Abdul Rauf, Public Health Physician, and Researcher, effectively relayed his experiences dealing with patients throughout the span of his professional career as a physician. The lecture encompassed details about how stress, anxiety, and depression, have a tremendous impact on people’s physical and mental well-being. During the lecture, Teachers were asked to measure their stress levels through a series of questions pertaining to the subject. The majority of the teachers identified their stress levels as being high and at critical levels, for which Dr. Farhan provided solutions and techniques to lower their stress levels in their daily lives. The rest of the discussion pertained to emotional triggers and stressors experienced by teachers dealing with students in the classrooms. Dr. Farhan also provided the teachers with strategies to maintain their own stress levels while dealing with students, as well as ways to nurture the students’ mental health.

The mental health workshop holistically encompassed a wide array of mental health issues faced by mothers, daughters, teachers and students, and provided them with an opportunity to strengthen themselves in the face of emotional stressors.  Through this eye-opening workshop, teachers were able to gain extensive knowledge about a subject that was previously unknown to them. The mental health workshop was a much-needed platform for teachers to gain a proper understanding of mental health issues faced by students, as well as ways to identify, manage and nurture them effectively.

Ms. Shahnaz Hunzai, the Project Head at Zindagi Trust SMB Fatima Jinnah Govt. Girls School, commended on the collaborated efforts of National Volunteer Programme and Dr. Farhan Abdul Rauf and welcomed the idea of hosting many such workshops and training sessions in the future.  The National Volunteer Programme has not only broadened its own outreach but through a ripple effect, has also enriched and expanded the outreach of existing beneficiary institutions working for various social causes.