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AIIMS plans to launch mental health programme for schoolchildren

October 11, 2017 1:44 AM
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Initiative meant to reach out to students through videos, theatre and group activities

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has tied up with the Mental Health Foundation (India) to start “School Health Clubs”, an initiative aimed at engaging with students to ensure their mental and emotional well-being in the future.

Speaking about the programme, which is to be implemented at the national level and is being “tested” in the Capital, Dr. Nand Kumar from the Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, said: “We aim to reach out to 50 schools (private/government) in Delhi and will later go national with the programme. Besides school students, teachers and parents will also be a part of the programme.”

He explained that this free-of-cost programme will try and educate students through videos, theatre and group activities. “The programme is divided into three levels for children from Class VI to Class XII . We will teach the children how to concentrate, handle stress and work with technology. We are now going directly to the students,’’ he said.

Doctors say that young adults are seeking help for issues such as anger management, emotional instability, lack of tolerance and reduced attention span among others. According to National Mental Health Survey (2016), 1 in 20 people suffer from depression in India.

Depression, anxiety and substance abuse together are called Common Mental Disorders (CMD). CMDs are affected by a wide range of socio-cultural, economic and political factors. Yet when it comes to addressing CMDs, it is often seen in the limited view of “clinical” diagnosis.

According to the National Mental Health Survey (2016), 10% of the Indian population suffers from CMDs. Data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suggests that the country needs 11,500 psychiatrists while India only has only 3,500.

India’s entire mental health workforce, comprising clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers and psychiatric nurses, stands at 7,000, while the actual requirement is 54,750. These numbers are alarming, especially, for a developing nation like India.

Work-related stress too is also on the rise in India. According to Dr. Manish Jain, consultant, Psychiatry, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, work-related stress arises when work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope.


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