Innovation summary

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in India (15-29 years) says a Lancet Global Health Study Report1. Most youth spend a major part of their time in education spaces. 4 out of 10 students experienced depression as per a 2016 Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies youth survey2. One student commits suicide every hour according to the National Crime Records Bureau data3. However, Indian educational institutions are ill equipped to deal with students’ mental health issues4.

The School-based Mental Health Justice program was developed to address the need for making educational spaces better equipped for youth mental well-being and proposes the following objectives:

  • Create a replicable pilot for school-based mental health justice for vulnerable youth
  • Improve mental health literacy among stakeholders in the school and education system
  • Invest in capacity-building that utilizes existing resources (i.e. School leadership) to ensure sustainability and participation
  • Develop a school system approach that is sensitive and an active stakeholder in promoting the mental health and justice of socio-politically vulnerable youth in India

The program aims to pilot their mental health and justice school system in one school in Mumbai by February 2020 through the following components:

  • Creating and implementing a training of trainers module for a basic, preventive and intersectional feminist understanding of mental health
  • Forming parent-child-community collaboration for youth mental health with school as nodal point,
  • Training school teachers & management to perform as professional baseline counsellors,
  • Establish a replicable model of school-based and teachers-led counselling for preventive mental health support
  • Establish a replicable model of school curriculum with an integrative mental health component

Impact summary

As the programme is due to end in 2020, the following are the proposed overall outcomes:

  • 1000 students, their parents and teachers will be enrolled in the program and receive counselling from this program
  • 6 teachers will be trained as professional counsellors through an integrated school mental health curriculum
  • Overall cost of implementing the programme is US$ 2.5 per beneficiary (these include teachers, parents and students)per year of module

“Youth development in its true sense can only happen if we understand their mental health, because no empowerment is possible without mental empowerment.” 


- Female teacher, 30 years

Innovation details

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.

Key drivers


Teachers come from similar backgrounds as their students and are trained to lead the program, ensuring sensitivity to their pupils’ social backgrounds. This is a key driving factor in promoting their mental health and well-being.

Collaborative and Community-Participatory

The school’s own leadership is being trained to run this program, with the aim of making it sustainable. Students’, teachers’ and parents’ participation ensures that the innovation responds to on-ground needs, changing strategies where necessary. Collaboration between the students, teachers and parents makes this a more holistic approach..


The organization will continue in its mentoring role and for resource mobilization for the school in terms of expert help and linking the school to affiliated networks.


Lack of Media coverage

There is not enough national and international coverage of the innovation to mobilize extended support and create public awareness.

Lack of Funds for scaling up

While the program has a plan and design in place for scaling, it lacks the necessary resources to implement an effective scale-up based on earlier grassroots youth mental health work.


Additional use and scale-up is incorporated within the innovation. Since the program aims to create a replicable model, the second year focuses on targeted advocacy for uptake by government schools. In India, the largest and most vulnerable youth attend government schools, and the innovation is being piloted for benefit of this population.

Another plan for scale-up is to advocate on the basis of this pilot program to include mental health in curriculum of the National Service Scheme - a public service program conducted by the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports with units in almost every college in the country.

Evaluation methods

The intervention is evaluated using logframe. This framework will be used to track whether the project is progressing according to the stated objectives and key activities by checking process and results indicators corresponding to each activity.

Participatory M&E methods:

Pre/post tests will be taken before and after each Teachers’ training to measure change in mental health literacy and counselling knowledge & skills. 

Feedback forms will be provided to students/teachers/parents after activities such as educational visit, film screening, mental health fair to measure change in help-seeking attitude and myths related to mental health.

Individual change mapping will be taken with teachers at end of one year of project to measure change in attitude, behaviour and knowledge regarding mental health of their students since start of project.

Community feedback will be taken at end of one year of project with random sample from students, parents and school management through FGDs, in-depth interviews, case studies, success stories,  etc.

Cost of implementation

The cost of implementing the innovation is USD $2,500. Of this, USD $1,500 used for training, USD $500 used for counselling sessions, USD $500 used for personnel and administrative costs. As can be seen, it is an extremely cost-effective program with 80% program costs and very little required for administrative & personnel costs.

Impact details

The innovation will be implemented in 2021 so the expected impact of the program will be:

  • 1000 students, their parents and teachers of one school in Mumbai will receive improved mental health education
  • 1000 students, their parents and teachers will experience a reduction in stigma levels
  • 6 teachers will complete mental health curriculum training as professional baseline counsellors
  • A complete and replicable model of a school-system with counselling, curriculum and other processes from perspective of mental justice of youth
  • 1000 students will have access to a counselling centre and referral networks within their school
  • 20 of them will ask for help from this counselling centre to begin with by the end of this project period
  • A minimum of 10 students will experience improved mental health after availing counselling services


  1. India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative Suicide Collaborators (Sep 11 2018) Gender Differentials and State Variations in Suicide Deaths in India. The Lancet Public Health 2 (10): PE478-E489​
  2. The Asian Age (Nov 6 2018) India Can’t Afford to Ignore Mental Health. Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2019]
  3. The Hindustan Times (May 8, 2017) Every Hour, One Student Commits Suicide in India. Available at: [Accessed 25 May 2019]
  4. The Hindustan Times (May 11, 2019) Indian Schools Need Counsellors As Mental Illness Strikes Early in Children. Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2019]


Philosophical Education (that may be any situation-based, All Type Religious Education, even other) works as a maturing agent for the development of the nation among the Youth and the Society in the World.
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