GEMS Education introduces The Alternative Alphabet, a mental health tool to empower teens

GEMS Education has partnered with Thrive Wellbeing Centre to launch The Alternative Alphabet, a free mental health tool aimed at enhancing young people’s understanding of mental health.

The Alternative Alphabet is backed by a GEMS Education survey of 4,500 UAE-based students aged 10-18 years that shows 42% often feel anxious or stressed, with 73% saying more needs to be done to support them in this important area. The survey also indicates that, while today’s young people show an increased awareness of mental health issues, seven in 10 won’t speak to friends or classmates about their mental health challenges.

Directly addressing this, The Alternative Alphabet facilitates a deeper understanding of mental health and provides adolescents with essential related skills, allowing them to better identify, define, and discuss the potential challenges they may face.

GEMS Education and Thrive Wellbeing Center gamified The Alternative Alphabet by developing a unique card game with 26 creative characters, one for each letter of the alphabet, in order to further encourage and ease discussion around mental health. Each figure stands for a distinct aspect of mental health, from self-compassion and insecurity to kindness and tolerance. While actively incorporating parents, guardians, and educators in the process, the fun card game encourages teenagers to manage their own welfare and support their classmates.

Ranju Anand, Senior Vice President – Education at GEMS Education, emphasised the significance of The Alternative Alphabet in providing young adults with a means to comprehend and articulate the language surrounding mental health. She said: “As infants, we learn to associate letters with visible objects, such as A for Apple or C for Cat. However, as children grow older, they encounter new emotions and feelings that they struggle to describe, such as anxiety, vulnerability, or insecurity.

“The Alternative Alphabet is specifically designed to empower young people by helping them comprehend and understand this complex terrain. It does this by matching each letter to an emotion or concept, such as A for Anxiety and M for Mindfulness. With this simple, yet interactive format, young people are introduced to the language of mental health.

“We are immensely proud to have partnered with Dr Sarah Rasmi and Thrive Wellbeing Centre, demonstrating the importance of community in fostering mental resilience among teenagers and young adults.”

A series of sessions with children from various schools and backgrounds were held by GEMS Education and the Thrive Wellbeing Centre to bring this to reality. Students had the opportunity to learn about mental toughness during these seminars, take part in emotional awareness-raising exercises, and have conversations about mental health.

Dr Sarah Rasmi, founder of Thrive Wellbeing Centre, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating: “We are excited to partner with GEMS Education in our shared dedication to bringing awareness of mental health issues and promoting overall wellbeing. The Alternative Alphabet is a unique resource that can be used to de-stigmatise mental health, and we believe it has the potential to positively impact thousands of young teens as they enter a transformative phase of their lives.”

GEMS Education worked with athletes, entrepreneurs, influencers, celebrities, and the media to create debate on the issue in order to broaden the campaign’s impact. The UAE requested 26 well-known people from a variety of backgrounds to “own” a single letter and the word that goes with it. They were asked to provide experiences, advice, and encourage constructive dialogue on their social media platforms.

The Alternative Alphabet marks another mental resilience milestone for GEMS Education, following the successful release earlier this month of ‘The Mock Exam’, a cinematic film featuring real students. This thought-provoking film, aimed at raising awareness about the significance of open conversations around mental health, has further solidified GEMS Education’s commitment to addressing and supporting the mental wellbeing of its students.

GEMS Education is making The Alternative Alphabet Card Game freely available for schools, teachers, students, parents and anyone interested.

For more information, visit the website

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