New Delhi: The establishment of a mental health advisory committee, a school-based mental health program and educational support to ensure the mental well-being of students and the engagement of parents are part of guidelines issued by NCERT for schools.
Guidelines for “Early Identification and Intervention of Mental Health Problems in School-going Children and Adolescents” have been published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) following a mental health survey of schoolchildren.
The survey report launched last week cites exams, results and peer pressure among the main sources of stress and anxiety among students.
“Schools are generally seen as spaces where communities of learners are expected to thrive in a safe and secure environment. The school management, principal, teachers, other staff and students all spend about 1/3 of a day and about 220 days in a year in state and UT schools in India.For boarding schools, the time spent by a student in the school community is even longer.Therefore, it is the responsibility of school to ensure the safety, security, health and well-being of all children in schools and homes,” the guidelines read.
According to the manual, each school or group of schools should establish a mental health advisory committee.
“It should be chaired by the principal and have teachers, parents, students and alumni as members. It will raise awareness, and also plan and implement an annual age- and gender-appropriate school mental health program. Schools should have a disposition to identify behavior, substance use and self-harm, depression and developmental issues, provide first aid and refer patients to appropriate services,” he said.
Noting that most of the time, mental health problems appear at an early stage in life, with half of all mental health problems appearing by the age of 14 and three quarters by the age of 25, NCERT recommended that besides families and parents, teachers should be made aware of the warning signs, as they too are the primary caregivers.
“Teachers should be trained to identify early signs in students of attachment problems, separation anxiety, school refusal, communication problems, anxiety patterns, depressive states, conduct problems , excessive internet use, hyperactivity, intellectual disability and learning disabilities,” he said.
“Teachers should talk about bullying incidents in the classroom and hold students accountable by educating them about bullying. They should provide students with a confidential way to report any incidents that concern them,” the manual says.