The innovation involves the development of a replicable model of school-based mental health program by:
- Training a school’s management staff and teachers to carry out school-based counselling
- For the school as a system to be aware of, sensitive to and proactive in improving student mental well-being
- Ensuring that mental health justice being a key part of social justice for youth belonging to vulnerable backgrounds is a prime principle driving this program.
The innovation begins with the creation of a rights-based, intersectional feminist training module of mental health which is sensitive to socio-political backgrounds of the student-clients and which trains school teachers to implement a school-based counselling programme for their students.
Training sessions with the teachers and management equip them with understanding, knowledge, values and skills to set up counselling, curriculum and other associated processes in their school that make it a mental health-friendly system. Training methods include and embed creative processes like film screening, educational visit, etc. in order to make the program more participatory and engaging.
Mental Health Literacy:
The program includes a mental health awareness component for students and parents that is accessible and creative, called the ‘Mental Health Fair’. The fair sets up interactive stalls to improve the understanding that mental health is part of overall well-being, while dispelling ideas of attached stigma and labelling. These activities are designed to encourage help-seeking behaviours in students, their parents and the communities they live in. This is with the idea that accessible mental health counselling will be available through the school to address any demand for mental health services generated from these activities. The school counselling program includes a resource directory and referral networks with professional mental health care institutions which ensures that those who need specialist care and treatment are directed appropriately.
Mental Health and Justice:
The program follows a rights-based approach where mental health is seen as a basic right for youth of socially vulnerable groups. It is understood in this approach that the right to mental health care and support without stigma is fundamental to social justice.
Anubhuti will maintain an active role in mentoring and supervision as the school starts its counselling centre. The program will adopt an iterative and organic approach in adapting existing components and work on embedding additional interventions as identified by the needs of students and teachers during the project period. Simultaneously, the awareness module will be incorporated in the school’s regular curriculum.