Students of a city school attended a programme on mental health that aimed to make them aware of problems faced by youngsters and well-equipped to stand by friends in need of help.
The five-day programme at a city hospital introduced the students to mental illnesses and taught them how to identify warning signs. They were also made familiar with a number of case studies.
Twenty-one students of Classes XI and XII of Calcutta International School attended the programme at Fortis Hospital, which ended on Friday last week.
Students of the A levels of Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), who have psychology as a subject, attended the training. Making children aware of mental health problems will go a long way in removing the stigma associated with the problems, mental health professionals say.
“This kind of programme helps raise awareness about mental health and remove the stigma. When there is no stigma, people are more open and comfortable to access help. It also helps in building up human resources to address the gap in mental health professionals,” said psychiatrist Sanjay Garg, head of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Kolkata.
Officials at the hospital said a few other schools, too, have approached them to conduct such programmes for their students.
Many schools have long been focussing on the mental health of their students. The effort has intensified following the pandemic.
“Students are a valuable resource in identifying (mental health problems among peers) and convincing them to seek help, from teachers or counsellors,” said Tina Servaia, principal, senior school, Calcutta International School.
“The programme helps them to understand how psychology works in real life. Italso empowers them to helpother students overcome their inhibitions,” said Servaia.
Richa S. Debgupta, chief of strategy and operations, Fortis Healthcare, said: “The pandemic has raised awareness among larger groups that if there is an issue, address it, go to professionals and look after mental wellbeing.”
“Often there is a social stigma around accessing mental health. If there is more conversation around it, it would help break the stigma,” said Pragya Jajodia, a student of IBDP, year II.