Mental health which encompasses the emotional, psychological and social well-being of an individual, contributes crucially to all aspects of human life and it has an intrinsic value for the individual, society and culture.
Since mental health has been a growing challenge in children and adolescents, it is crucial that we foster an emotionally and behaviorally safe climate in schools, while simultaneously bringing about awareness amongst the teachers regarding the mental health conditions of children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of people especially children and adolescents disrupting their growth curve. Added to this the academic gap faced by them has impacted their emotional well-being leading to an increase in fear, anxiety, depression, grief etc. In order to tackle this growing burden, it is essential to create awareness and educate teachers and parents regarding the mental health concerns of children and adolescents. Further, the schools should be equipped to aid in the early identification of mental health issues and their mitigation.
AHPI, PHFI and Wipro foundation jointly brought out a document "Guidelines for reopening of Schools, Post COVID-19 Pandemic" Mental Health Module-GOI, which was presented to the Ministry of Education.
Responding promptly, the MoE constituted a committee of experts under the guidance of Smt. Anita Karwal I.A.S, Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MoE, Smt. L S Changsan, I.A.S, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MoE and Dr. Jitendra Nagpal, Chairman. The committee held several rounds of discussions and deliberations over one year, leading to finalising the guidelines that were released in the form of a handbook, on 6th September 2022.
The AHPI, PHFI, Wipro foundation and the NIMHANS joined hands with the Ministry and other experts in developing the guidelines to empower teachers and other stakeholders for early identification or detection of mental health problems in school-going children and adolescents.
The handbook is a comprehensive module for training teachers counsellors and other stakeholders. The objective is to equip teachers and allied caregivers with the requisite information and skills to facilitate early identification and offer basic intervention by way of psychological first aid, for the flag signs of mental health conditions in children and adolescents.
Appreciating the efforts of the expert committee Dr. Alexander Thomas as the Convener of the group thanked the Ministry of Education, Government of India for releasing the comprehensive modular handbook 'Early identification/ detection of mental health problems in school going children and adolescents, for hands-on training of teachers, counsellors and other stakeholders, on the 6th of September 2022.
It is estimated that this project will empower around 40 lakh teachers all across the country and will immensely benefit millions of our young school children and their families.
AHPI, PHFI and Wipro foundation strongly advocates the utilization and adoption of this handbook by the schools for the greater good of the community.