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Let’s Get ‘Psych-ed’: Kids Across India All Set To Get Discerning About Mental Health

By: Chaiti Narula

Edited By: Shifa Khan

News18 Specials

Last Updated: July 23, 2018, 15:05 IST

Photo for representation only.

Photo for representation only.

Children can experience a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders.

Mental health is an integral and important pillar of society given the increasing levels of stress and anxiety on the back of changing lifestyles in the world’s sixth largest growing economy – India.

Growing enthusiasm and passion amongst students and the younger generation to provide a clear vision on psychology and mental health, psych-ed, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, fortis healthcare has curated an annual psychology quiz under the guidance of Dr. Samir Parikh, director of the department. This is a non-profit initiative taken by a team of extremely passionate mental health practitioners to make a difference.

The quiz is an effective medium to encourage students to learn about psychology in a manner which does not leave a negative footprint on the kids. It is geared towards creating awareness and a sensitized environment, especially amongst the youth, to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

“our vision is to transform the way mental health is talked about. Reaching out to students we aim to create a learning amongst them of how to respond to individuals experiencing distress and in what ways they can create awareness. Psychological studies should be available in maximum schools so more students can take this as a subject. Mental health- rather than subject wellbeing, life skills need to be integrated in schools,” believes Dr. Parikh.

The country faces a deficit of mental health practitioners and this quiz is aimed at creating the much-needed talk about mental health.

“Mental health and psychology are absolutely important. It should be mandatory, and not just for counselling of students needing help, it should be towards enhancing well-being and skill building. I believe this should be incorporated in all institutes- government and private, and given the shortfall of experts, There's a massive need to synergize pubic-private partnership models by utilizing digital India to reach the outskirts,” adds Dr. Parikh.

The first round of the quiz is an online round conducted within the premises of various schools, where each participating school is required to nominate a team of three students from their senior secondary classes. The participating teams need to answer questions within an hour any time between 10 am to 1 pm on 7th August 2018. For the zonal finals, the top 12 qualifying schools based on their ranking from each of the six zones across India are to be invited. These will be held at Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata and Mohali.

The winning team from each zone will qualify for the grand finale on September 1st, 2018 at to which students would be flown by fortis healthcare. The winner, first and second runners-up teams will be awarded a cash prize along with a scholarship. Comprehensive psychology internships for all six teams who reach finale will be given by the department of mental health and behavioural sciences.

Interestingly, social media is being used potentially to create more awareness. Webinars are being conducted and various programs on life skills like pro-social peer moderator programs have been designed for schools.

“The fortis school mental health program does not have a cost factor, this is something we do as we believe it’s important for the society,” informs a team member.

While more and more youth feel comfortable to talk about mental health, we have a long way to go in terms of open acceptability for mental health.

Suicides among young kids continue to plague Indian education system for years. “suicidal behaviour compels a need for a lot more cohesive effort. We do have a 24-hour helpline run by our team of psychologists which is aimed at not just helping people but also for crisis intervention for suicide prevention,” adds Dr. Parikh.

Kamna Chhibber, a psychologist shares “we have been conducting interactive talks and workshops for students, teachers and parents, addressing concerns around ‘child and adolescent mental health’. These workshops have been geared towards enabling positive parenting, effective teaching and providing stronger coping skills to children and adolescents, thereby working on improving their psychological well-being and life skills training”.

“In the last year alone we have conducted over 1000 workshops in schools. Our aim is to make mental health a household name and ensure that students, teachers and parents are aware of its concerns and encourage help-seeking for mental health issues,” observes Mimansa Singh Tanwar, a psychologist.

“This year we have even more schools reaching out to us. On social media, our campaigns have been receiving an overwhelming response. An increasing number of students and teachers are reaching out to know more about the quiz and are looking forward to being a part of it,” concludes mental health practitioner Divya Jain.

first published:July 23, 2018, 15:05 IST
last updated:July 23, 2018, 15:05 IST