MENTAL HEALTH IN SCHOOLS IN INDIA
Apart from the big problem of educational inequality that education- focused nonprofits aim to solve, can you think of another magnanimous issue that students and other young people in India face? It is that of mental health disorders. Here, we focus on some great mental health programs in schools in India!
India's vibrant demographic is made up of the largest population of young people (10 to 24 year olds) in the world, with every third person belonging to this age group, according to the 2015 Population Database of the United Nations Population Division . Unfortunately, it is also the country where the first and top cause of death for young people (15–29 years and 15–39 years) is death by suicide. This is enough evidence for us to talk about the importance of loudly advocating for mental health issues and disseminating positive information on the mental health services available to the young people in India .
National Mental Health Program (NMHP) in India:
The flagship government mental health program in India is called the ‘National Mental Health Program ’ which has been in implementation since 1982. Its 4 main components are The District Mental Health Program, Modernisation of State Mental Hospitals, Up-gradation of Psychiatric Wings of Medical Colleges/General Hospitals and The Manpower development scheme. The main objectives of the program are to ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future; to encourage the application of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and in social development; to promote community participation in the mental health service development and to enhance human resource in mental health sub-specialties.
Mental health programs in schools in India:
- The ‘Mental Health Justice’ program by Mental Health Innovation Network-  was started to bring mental health services to school spaces. This program aimed to pilot a replicable mental health justice program in schools in Mumbai that included sensitising stakeholders in schools about mental health issues and building their capacity to support the cause.
- Yuva Mitr in Goa- is a community based program for youth health promotion which included peer to peer learning, teachers training and awareness programs on youth health subjects like mental health, reproductive health, etc. On evaluating its impact, the program piloted in rural and urban area showed more openness towards seeking help for mental health issues like substance abuse, sexual abuse and suicidal thoughts.
- SAATHI in SIkkim- ‘SAATHI’ stands for Sikkim Against Addiction Towards Health India’. It recognises that mental health issues (especially in a context like Sikkim, India) is intricately linked with substance abuse and thus uses a ‘peer education’ model to advocate against drug use among school students, parents and school staff.
There are many more incredible school mental health programs in India and we hope that reading this blog has etched in all our readers’ minds the dire need to link education with mental health advocacy for the young.
- National Health Profile 2011. New Delhi: Prabhat Publicity; 2011. Central Bureau of Health Intelligence. Demographic indicators. Available from: http://www.cbhidghs.nic.in/writereaddata/mainlinkFile/01%20Cover%20page%202011.pdf