Mental health professionals to be linked with schools in the city

“A mentally healthy child can learn better, be happier at school”

Updated - January 28, 2020 07:42 am IST

Published - January 28, 2020 01:07 am IST - CHENNAI

CHENNAI: 27/01/2020: FOR CITY : Helen Herrman,President of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) interacting with participants including psychiatrists and psycholagists during a training session for school mental heath on Monday. Photo : K. Pichumani/The Hindu

CHENNAI: 27/01/2020: FOR CITY : Helen Herrman,President of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) interacting with participants including psychiatrists and psycholagists during a training session for school mental heath on Monday. Photo : K. Pichumani/The Hindu

Mental health of the young has started to gain prominence in the last few years. To create access to help at the school-level, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), citiesRISE and Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) have come together to build the capacity of mental health professionals and link them to schools in the city.

In a first step towards this, 32 psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric social workers are taking part in a two-day “Practice Transformation Workshop”. Though many schools still do not have counsellors, institutions are beginning to understand the importance of focussing on the mental health needs of students.

Helen Herrman, president of WPA, said there was a great need for early intervention at the school-level. “It is important for schools, mental health professionals and the system to come together. We have seen that a mentally healthy child can learn better, be happier at school and interact better with each others. All this produces better learning outcomes,” she said. She added that a whole-school approach to mental health was essential.

“We are working on youth mental health for more than five years, and this is a continuation of that effort. “Mental health problems in youth and adolescents are much higher in Tamil Nadu than many other States. This is top priority for us. We are building the capacity of mental health professionals, and our aim is to create a school mental health group in Chennai through which they can be liaised with schools to enhance mental health of the young. This will be an on-going process,” said R. Thara, vice chairperson of SCARF.

M. Suresh Kumar, technical lead, citiesRISE, said they were embarking on a whole-school approach by training teachers and parents, and constituting resilient teams to help children and provide low threshold intervention in a school setting. With a curriculum developed by SCARF, the mental health professionals are being trained on assessment and management of common mental health problems among schoolchildren. “Schoolchildren may have problems such as refusal to go to school, relationship dynamics within peers, academic pressures and distress due to family conflicts,” he said. Post-training, these professionals would be geographically linked to 30 schools — mostly Chennai Corporation schools. The resilient teams of schools would be linked with the mental health professionals, he mentioned.

One of the participants,Yamini Kannappan, consultant psychiatrist, Kauvery Hospitals, and said mental health of youth was one of the current challenges considering their vulnerability, high suicide rates and mental health problems. “We need a structured framework for school mental health interventions,” she said. Vimal, senior assistant professor, Department of Child Psychiatry, Institute of Child Health, said, “Till now, we have had the hospital-based approach and care. We need to go to the schools, identify issues early and treat in the school.”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.