There is lack of awareness and a dearth of mental health professionals in Government Schools. With minimum resources being dedicated to combat this, its evident that the schools do not see the need to provide counsellors and other support systems to combat this issue. Little to no information is collected about the mental health of the students of the schools.
Apoorvi Bharatram from New Delhi, having seen mental health issues being prevalent in people around her and the effects it can have, started the Happiness Project. It is a simple, 3-step model that helps to gauge the happiness quotient of students in government schools and then use that data to train the teachers to become ‘Para-Counsellors’. The mental health test collects data on issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and body-image issues and the idea is to use this evident data to convince teachers the graveness of the problem.
The project has led to an increase in awareness of mental health related issues amongst the school management, teachers and amongst the students. Moving forward, the data collected from the survey can be used to convince the Government of the need for mental health professionals in Government schools. Apoorvi also hopes to make the regular training of teachers in the area of mental health and adolescent issues mandatory by the government.
“We believe that safeguarding adolescent mental health begins with schools and teachers. Educating these critical stakeholders about mental health can help adolescents enhance their social skills, improve their problem-solving capacity and gain self-confidence – which in turn may alleviate mental health problems and discourage risky and violent behaviour,” says the 14-year-old who has been picked by Ashoka Innovators for the Public for the first global edition of its Young Changemakers programme. The initiative’s aim is to focus on the role of teenagers as influencers and co-leaders as a means to bring about large-scale social change.
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This article is part of a new series on Indian millennials reshaping the world through social impact