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NCERT to Schools: guidelines released for early detection of mental health concerns in students

NCERT to Schools: The guidelines published by NCERT for schools are the formation of a committee of mental health counsellors, a school-based mental health programme and mentoring support to ensure the mental wellbeing of participating students and parents. The guidelines for “Early identification and intervention for mental health problems in school-going children and adolescents” is been released by the NCERT.

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The guidelines read as “Schools generally are seen as spaces where communities of learners have been expected to develop in a safe and secure environment. School management, principal, teachers, other staff, and students all spend around 1/3 of a day and around 220 days in a year in schools across the states and UTs in India. For residential schools, the time spent by a student in the school community is even more. Therefore, it is the school’s responsibility to ensure the safety, security, health, and well-being of all children in schools and hostels”.

As power the manual, each school should establish a mental health advisory board. “It should be chaired by the principal and have teachers, parents, students and alumni as members. It will create awareness, and also plan and enforce an age and gender-appropriate annual school mental health programme. The schools should have a provision for identifying behaviour, substance use and self-harm, depression, and developmental concerns, provide first aid and make appropriate referrals,” it said.

Keeping in mind that mental health issues often appear at an early stage of life. The authority has advised that families and teachers need to be aware of early indicators of mental health issues.

The manual further said that “Teachers must be trained in identifying early signs in students for attachment issues, separation anxiety, school refusal, communication issues, anxiety patterns, depressive states, conduct-related issues, excessive internet use, hyperactivity, intellectual disability, and learning disabilities, it said. “Teachers should talk about bullying cases in class and empower students by educating them regarding bullying. They should provide a confidential way for students to report any incident which is of concern to them”.

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