Inculcating Mental Health Care in Education Institutes

A widespread lack of awareness of mental health leads to an absence of language with which to speak of our psychosocial concerns, or vocalize a demand for mental health services. In order to promote the identification of mental health issues, such as stress, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, at a young age, interactive workshops with students are highly effective. This also works to encourage help seeking behavior and work towards reducing the stigma around mental health in the community. Manas has formed associations with several academic institutions across Delhi-NCR, undertaking preventive and promotive mental health related programs.

Counseling Services at Dyal Singh

Manas Foundation has been running a Mental Health Programme for Dyal Singh College since April, 2014. The work in Dyal Singh entails to conduct one on one counseling sessions with the students to assist them in the process of resolving their interpersonal conflicts, challenges and stressors in life due to academics and other experiences and well as build resilience towards developing maladaptive patterns of coping in times of distress. One of the psychologists from the team visits the college weekly to aid the students in these processes. The psychologist also helps the students and teachers understand the importance of preventive, and positive mental healthcare in their lives. This academic year, the therapist outreached approximately 63 students. Additionally we continued to display attractive IEC material across the campus such as posters which focused on different mental health concerns and strategies students can implement in their daily lives to manage these concerns.

Sanskriti School Mental Health Curriculum

 Manas initiated conducting workshops on a one-touch basis with Sanskriti School in 2012 over topics concerning mental health and lifeskills for it students and subsequently developed a mental health curriculum which has been incorporated within the academic framework of the school. The mental health curriculum addresses specific psychosocial concerns that arise at the various stages of growing up, and include physical and emotional changes, identity formation, respect and discipline, communication, relationships, and peer pressure among others. These workshops are annually monitored and evaluated by the expert panel. Feedback is collected and reviewed by all the stakeholders including faculty, students and parents of Sanskriti School. Students have expressed positive feedback with regard to the workshop; consistently stating its relevance to their personal and academic lives. It has not only been well-received by the students but the other stakeholders as well, enabling the curriculum to progress into its fifth year. In the module revision for the 6th academic year, a consensus was reached by the panel to execute the curriculum via specific modalities for each of the grades. The year 2020-2021 was the 7th year of implementing the Manas Mental Health Curriculum with Sanskriti, as schooling moved to a virtual mode of learning, Manas Foundation adapted and conducted online workshops over the platform of Google Meet, students shared an online safe space with Manas Foundation and the workshops emerged to be deeply engaging.

Mental health services for Adhyan public school

 At the start of this year, Adhyan Public School based out of Kapashera reached out to Manas to provided mental health interventions within their premises for their students. The school caters to children from low income families and valued the impact that mental health services can have on their overall development and progress. Our psychologist visits the premises on weekly basis and conducts group workshops, individual counseling sessions as well as IQ Assessments for children in close coordination with the school management.

Mental Health pertaining to children has always been an essential concern for parents as well as health professionals. According to WHO approximately 10 – 20 % of children and adolescents experience mental health concerns.

At Manas we recognize these challenges and keep evolving our strategy to meet the diverse and ever growing need for mental health services in children and adolescents. Manas is also regularly commissioned to undertake mental health related interventions and programmes with college and school students and teachers, and has an existing extensive body of work aimed towards identifying best practices, developing systems to promote student-counselor-educator-parent interactions, creating awareness on mental health, mental health curriculum and also directly addressing the mental health concerns that arise within the partner institutes. We seamlessly blend mental health curriculum into the academic curricula through various modalities ranging from direct intervention, research as well as a workshop-based, interactive curriculum.

We are very pleased to share with you that it has launched in a more structured manner its school programs as “The Circle Program”.

The Circle Program” name was very carefully chosen to not only reflect our services as well as to cover the areas which are extremely important to the school culture of being a safe place where we continue to nurture learning but also create a resilient future. Circle represents a whole ensuring that all the important dots are connected including all the stakeholders in your school community and school mental health programs.

Mental Health Curriculum for School Students

Through the medium of regular interactive workshops held multiple times over the academic year, audio-visual material and activity-based learning, key themes relevant to psycho-socio-emotional health of specific age groups are taken up. These grade-specific themes are incorporated into a comprehensive academic curriculum that can be customized to fit the needs and concerns being experienced by the children in each specific institute. The implementation of workshops around these specific themes with the students follow multiple interactions with the same groups of students over the course of the academic year enabling a long-term engagement with these concerns and allowed the students to build on personal and collective insights through each successive interaction. Some of our partners in this approach are/have been:

Sanskriti SchoolAmity International Schools
The Air force SchoolThe Mothers’ International School
Sardar Patel VidyalayaGyan Bharti School

Training Programmes with School Counsellors

Several schools now have in-house counsellors that are deployed to help students manage psychosocial concerns. This is a major step in the direction of providing specialized and professional mental health services that are technically equipped to deal with students’ mental health needs and concerns. However, school counsellors often report a need for capacity building, case supervision and peer reviews.

In our extensive work with school students, we have developed training modules and hands-on curricula for school counsellors and mental health professionals working with children and adolescents in association with UNFPA, the Directorate of Education GNCTD, and SCERT (2016).  An indepth training programme for newly inducted Guest Counsellors in Delhi Government Schools was also initiated under this partnership wherein trainings were facilitated with 160 newly inducted counsellors, via a five-day programme covering specific subthemes pertaining to counselling school children.

Capacity Building of Teachers

The trainings we undertake with school teachers adopts an interactive workshop-based methodology, including multimedia resources, role plays, case discussions and peer mentoring. Our trainings are activity-based, allowing the teachers and staff to experientially understand their role in creating an enabling environment within which students’ feel safe and cared for. Some of the themes on which we conduct teacher trainings include:

  • Children protection
  • Children’s mental health needs and concerns
  • Adolescent psychology
  • Identifying developmental concerns in young children
  • Mental health awareness
  • Creating positive classrooms
  • Student diversity
  • Stress management for teachers
  • Orientation to career counselling

Awareness programmes for academic institutes

Mental health awareness is an imperative first step to develop clarity about our own and others’ psycho-social and emotional needs, and work towards a more holistic sense of well-being. Propagation of myths around mental health further the stigmatization and reduce help seeking behavior on part of the affected. To target this, since its inception, Manas Foundation has worked relentlessly to raise evidence-based mental health awareness amongst academic institutions through workshops, campaigns, action-research and advocacy. Under one of our initiatives, in 2016, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, an organization founded by actor Deepika Padukone, approached Manas Foundation to become their implementing partner for school mental health workshops in Delhi. Over two years of partnership (2016-2017, and 2017-2018), Manas conducted workshops on mental health awareness at more than 200 schools in Delhi/NCR, reaching out to approximately 24,000 students and 7,000 teachers.

Direct Mental Health Intervention Model for Academic Institutes

Manas also has a model of direct delivery of mental health interventions with academic institutes wherein we plug in the required services within their existing infrastructure. We visit the institute according to a pre decided schedule for counseling students, conducting assessment as well as taking workshops on topics such as interpersonal relationships, stress management, gender sensitivity, diversity and respect, addiction, social conformity etc. Under one such association, since 2011, our team members visit Dyal Singh College (Delhi University) and Adhyayan Public School Kapashera on a weekly basis. 

Research on Mental Health and Well-Being in Children

Manas Foundation has undertaken research on understanding mental health and well-being needs and concerns of students and children, along with researching the interventions in place to address these needs. The objectives, methods and outcomes of these research programmes have been oriented towards mapping, developing and advocating for enabling access of systematic mental health services to children, students and teachers for strengthening the overall academic system.

Study of School Counselling Services in Delhi Government Schools with UNFPA

In the academic year 2015-2016, the UNFPA commissioned Manas Foundation to undertake a ‘Study of School Counselling Services’ in Delhi Government Schools. It’s an in-depth qualitative study of the current status of the counselling mechanism as understood from the perspectives of all the stakeholders involved: counsellors, students, principals and teachers, as well as the Directors of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and the EVGC Bureau as heads of the relevant overseeing bodies.

Action research on the mental health issues of urban disadvantaged youth

The research aimed at Mapping the happiness barometers of youth (or their levels of hope, aspirations, enthusiasm, and ambition) on a specially-constructed scale. It identified their unique psychological enablers and barriers to positive identity and leadership building. Analyzed the discrimination and stigma experienced in public spaces and its repercussion on their mental health. It also outlined the co-relation between identity, self-concept, mental health, gender, well-being and leadership. Along with mapping concrete mechanisms for strengthening the capacities of urban disadvantaged youth for coping with, and responding to, stigma and discrimination, both in their external and internal worlds.We completed our total sample size of 500 youth population from 10 different NGOs all over Delhi NCR.

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