In 2018 our unique mental health plug in model was recognised by UNICEF Chhattisgarh. Therefore, in an effort towards making mental health services more accessible and affordable for the population in Chhatisgarh, UNICEF, Manas Foundation and the Government of Chhattisgarh collaborated to pilot an innovative mental health project in the state. In 2019 we plugged in our mental health services to the districts of Narayanpur, Kanker, Sukma and Dantewada. Due to the positive impact our plug in model had on the 4 districts and the growing demand for mental health services in other districts we branched out our model to the district of Kondagaon as well.
In order to curate a multisystemic mental healthcare model in Chhattisgarh, Manas Foundation works in collaboration with the Tribal Welfare Department, the Department of Women and Child Development, The National District Mental Health Programme, National Rural Health Mission and the State Legal Services Authority.
Our work with the Tribal Welfare Department focuses on strengthening their child care residential institutions to cater to the psychosocial needs of the children. For this purpose we decided to build the capacities of superintendents from 10 model institutions in each district to not only support the primary developmental needs of the children but also provide them with empathetic psychosocial care and support. Currently we work with 50 superintendents where we train them to identify psychosocial concerns amongst children, provide psychological first aid when required and timely refer to an appropriate mental health professional when the symptoms are indicative of a severe mental health concern. Our psychologists in each district are a direct point of referral for children who are experiencing significant mental health concerns. They also regularly conduct group sessions and interactive mental health workshops with the children residing in the institutions which aim to promote healthy coping and positive mental health. During the second wave of COVID 19 we understood that it was not only important towards promoting positive mental health amongst children but also their caregivers, the superintendents. Therefore, we conducted a series of workshops with them on topics such as coping with stress, mental health check in during the pandemic, anxiety and psychosomatic concerns, depression and coping with loss etc.
Our work with the Department of Women and Child Development, Chhattisgarh is also a key capacity building initiative where we work with the counsellors employed under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme and train them on effective counselling skills and techniques, case recording and documentation, crisis intervention techniques, identifying child mental health disorders etc.
Our counsellors actively work towards supporting the District Mental Health Programme by providing their services in the District Hospital of their respective districts. They also implement some capacity building sessions such as training on COVID counselling for teachers and other medical staff, suicide prevention, psychological first aid etc. During the second wave of COVID 19 our counselling services reached out to over 600 people in Kanker.
In 2020-2021 we also conducted online capacity building training modules with the Para Legal Volunteers employed by the State Legal Services Authority, Chhattisgarh, on implementing mental health group work sessions with children in the age group of 6-12 years and 13-18 years. Through these online training sessions the volunteers are provided a space where they can learn about preventive and promotive psycho-social care. The goal of these training sessions is to facilitate the PLVs to efficiently implement mental health group work sessions with the children residing in the communities they work with. 3 sets of training were conducted with 60 PLVs who were then encouraged to apply the learnings to implement mental health group work sessions within their communities. A carefully curated booklet with a series of activities for children was also developed and printed. This booklet was designed to serve as a guide for the PLVs to facilitate these psychosocial group work sessions with children
Among one of our most recent developments we have also collaborated with the National Rural Health Mission with the aim of spreading awareness about mental health and easing access to mental health services. For this purpose we conduct light touch workshops on mental health with frontline health workers (specifically ASHA and ANM workers) to equip them to be first responders for anyone experiencing mental health concerns within their communities.