Happiness zones have been set up in more than 1,000 government schools in Jammu to help students overcome stress, anxiety and fearfulness triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials from the state education department have said.
These zones have been created in accordance with the directions of the education ministry and endorsed by the directorate of school education. More such zones will be set up as schools reopen after vacations, officials from the Jammu education department added.
"Acknowledging the importance of mental health, especially in the post-COVID pandemic scenario, more than 1,000 government schools of Jammu division have created happiness zones to provide safe and psychologically comfortable spaces within the school premises where students can talk about their feelings and emotions unhesitatingly and in a confidential manner," a senior officer said.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the directorate of school education, Jammu has directed all schools from middle to higher secondary to create such zones to provide psychosocial support to students as per 'Manodarpan' guidelines.
Trained faculty counsellors working in counselling cells of these schools are rendering their services in these zones, officials said.
Mandorpan is an initiative of the ministry of education that aims to provide psycho-social support and counselling to students for their mental health and wellbeing during and after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ravi Shankar Sharma, director of school education in Jammu, said students coming to schools after such a long gap may experience a heightened level of stress, anxiety, and fearfulness along with a wide range of other emotional and behavioural issues due to the COVID situation.
"We need to be prepared to offer students a healthy and psychologically safe environment. Happiness of the child is directly linked with academic outcomes and we have to focus on mental health to improve attention, retention, safety and security of students," he said.
According to an official of the school education department in Jammu, the counselling cells are organising regular capacity development programmes and webinars for teachers in collaboration with reliable institutions to develop counselling skills in teachers as well.
Romesh Kumar Sharma, in-charge of a counselling cell, said constitution of happiness zones in schools will create a culture of individualised guidance and counselling. It will go a long way in ensuring the overall well-being of students besides providing psychosocial support to them, he said.