In order to build stronger mental health among students, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is planning to reach out to minimum 2,000 Delhi school children to make them more competitive, maintain a positive lifestyle and to prevent from any kind of mental illness in the future.
In this regard, the AIIMS has signed an MoU with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for a unique project called Mind Activation Through Education (MATE) which is a school-wellness program on mental health.
According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, at any given point of time, nearly 50 million Indian children suffer from mental disorders, and this number will increase if the adolescent population is considered as well.
According to the experts, the key reasons for mental illness among children are social media, gaming, traumatic experiences in early childhood, frequent migration, peer pressure, parental surveillance, negative life events, educational setbacks, early relationship problems and family history of mental illness, as well as stress at school, contribute to mental illness of a child.
“In the pilot project MATE, we have focused on students from Grade 6th to 8th as children studying are adolescents. A lot of hormonal changes occur in this age group. Children need special care and focus from their parents”, said Nand Kumar, a psychiatry professor at AIIMS and principal investigator of the project MATE.
“We will reach to 2,000 students of both private and government sectors. We will sensitize them on important topics like relationship with oneself, sex education, ways to cope up with difficulties, respect for self and all, substance abuse and how to maintain balance between mind and body,” he said, adding that the project will be conducted on students of Grade 9 and above in the later years.
Kumar also said that the program will match the biological syllabus of the respective classes and mainly in audiovisual form.
“Students would be taught to discourage sedentary lifestyle and will learn how to make appropriate use of technology. They will understand how to make balanced use of the internet, reducing online gaming including mobile and social media addiction by an appropriate alternative scientific approach,” said Randeep Guleria, AIIMS-Director.
Anil Pathak, Members (Planning) of AAI said, “Under the project MATE, the AAI along with AIIMS would sensitize school students towards the basics of mind-body integration based on a bio-psycho-social model of functioning of the brain and body. I am glad to extend CSR support to AIIMS and will extend our support in the future for any proposal from AIIMS Delhi.”
There would be a workshop for students and parents in an effort to create awareness of mental health issues. The outcome of each workshop would be monitored at the end of one year.