Creating Safe Spaces: NCERT Directs Schools To Identify, Help Students With Mental Health Problems

Image Credits: Twitter and Unsplash (representational)

Creating Safe Spaces: NCERT Directs Schools To Identify, Help Students With Mental Health Problems

Following surveys on growing anxiety and stress among a major proportion of students, NCERT has issued guidelines to schools to identify mental health problems in students at an early stage and help them around with them.

A recent survey conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) of over three lakh students from all across the country found that about 81 per cent of students had anxiety due to studies and examinations. The findings were worrying on a large scale as they also traced back to several student suicide cases reported by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Acting upon the study, the NCERT has issued guidelines to schools for early identification and intervention of mental health problems among students. Under the guidelines, they have recommended mental health advisory panels, mental health awareness programmes, and pedagogical support.

Starting Early For A Healthier Tomorrow

Earlier this month, an NCERT Survey revealed exams, results, and peer pressure to be among the major contributing factors to student stress and anxiety nationwide. It was also found that mental health issues emerge in most cases at the early stages of life, from as young as 14 years old. In such a scenario, it is crucial to identify and act on their mental health through spaces where they spend most of their time - homes and schools.

Families and teachers are among the primary caregivers for children of that age, and the NCERT recommendations are directed to cover these particular care groups. It elaborated that students and management spend about one-third of their day and about 220 days a year in schools. Therefore, by default, these become the spaces responsible for the safety, security, and well-being of all students.

As per the report by the Telegraph, teachers must be appropriately trained in early identification of risk signs among students, such as attachment issues, separation anxiety, school refusal, communication issues, anxiety patterns, depressive states, conduct-related issues, excessive internet use, hyperactivity, intellectual disability, learning disabilities, and so on. The vast spectrum of mental health issues will be addressed to transform schools into safe and secure student environments.

As per the guidelines, every school should establish a mental health advisory panel that would be chaired by the principal and have teachers, parents, students and alumni as the members. The guidelines read, "It will create awareness, and also plan and enforce an age and gender appropriate annual school mental health programme."

A Move That All Teachers Would Welcome

"I believe it's a move for the best and without a doubt will be welcomed by the teaching community", said Nirmala K, a science teacher at a government primary school in Kerala's Trivandrum district.

Speaking to the Logical Indian, she spoke of how teachers have always been welcoming of such initiatives. Recalling the pandemic time, she stated that it was a challenging time for both students and teachers equally. Apart from ensuring that lessons are being conveyed to them effectively, we had a moral responsibility to ensure their well-being while attending classes from their homes, she added.

"It was at the time of Shailaja teacher's ministry (former Health Minister of Kerala) that there were helplines set to deal with mental health issues of students, and they would actively coordinate with us teaching professionals and in some cases, family members, to reach out to students better." There have always been proactive efforts from the centre and state to acknowledge student issues, even though, at times, they fall flat in terms of implementation.

She also noted the provisions in the guidelines specific to bullying cases, which she thinks are much-needed in many institutions, along with a proper redressal forum.

Also Read: Exams, Results Significant Cause Of Anxiety Among School-Going Students: NCERT Survey

Contributors Suggest Correction
Editor : Shiva Chaudhary
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar

Must Reads