Children and adolescents being the future of the country, their mental health was an essential component of overall health and well being of society, K. Meena, Vice Chancellor, Bharathidasan University, said on Saturday.

Lack of attention to the mental health of children and adolescents may lead to several problems reducing their capacity and productivity, Vice Chancellor Meena said at the valediction of the international conference on child and adolescent mental health organised by Department of Social Work of the university in association with James Cook University, Australia.

In the present era, working parents had little time to spend with their children and share their experiences with them. It was here that the role of teachers was crucial and they could play a vital role in identifying the innate skills of the children besides imparting value based education, Ms. Meena observed.

Commissioner of Police Shailesh Kumar Yadav said police had a major responsibility to protect children and adolescents with mental sickness or disorder under the Mental Health Act, 1987.

Law enforcers were more concerned about conduct disorder as it ultimately leads to anti-social personality disorder prompting the person to indulge in anti-social acts, he said. In many cases of suicide, it was found that sudden provocation and even a minor squabble had led to such radical action, Mr. Yadav said.

Prof. Sue McGinty, Acting Director, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Australia, and P. Ilango, professor and head, Department of Social Work, Bharathidasan University, spoke.

The two-day conference provided a platform to academicians, practitioners, research scholars and students to share their theoretical insights besides showcasing innovative and effective interventions to address mental health issues of children and adolescents globally. The conference pooled 207 registered abstracts for presentation and 174 papers for publication. The participants constituted physicians, psychiatrists, special educators, professors, lawyers, social workers, physiotherapists, nurses, sportsmen and research scholars focussing on the conference theme from their respective professional view points.

Delegates from 26 universities in the country and those from Australia and the United Arab Emirates participated.