30% school kids need mental healthcare
"Thirty per cent of the so called ‘normal’ schools going kids require mental healthcare otherwise they will be forced to live in ‘learnt' helplessness," said Dr Alok Bajpai, Psychiatric based in Kanpur. Dr Bajpai was the key speaker at the fortnightly Media4Children, organized by Media Nest and supported by UNICEF at the UP Press Club. The session meant to sensitize journalist on different development issues was presided over by psychologist Dr Manju Agarwal.
Asserting that 90 per cent behavioral disorders in children are due to the environment and society. Dr Bajpai said that 70 per cent of these behavioral problems are because of the education system. He said most of the time the parents do not know what they want from their child and the child also grows up confused.
Apart from practicing general psychiatry, Dr Bajpai’s consistent focus and work has been with child and adolescent mental health, and have established a child and adolescent mental health centre, Uttar Pradesh’s first at Kanpur.
He has been instrumental in awareness campaigns. and workshops especially with schools and training teachers aimed at increasing sensitivity towards childhood problems. An extension of this work is an ongoing School mental health project.
These workshops were conducted in various cities in India like Noida, Varanasi, Lucknow, including Gujarat. A three day workshop in Chennai included 300 children and parents from various strata of schools in Chennai. 'NO KIDDING' was immensely useful. These workshops depending on the group and time focus on the children in form of brainstorming, or life skills events, with teachers and parents on knowing the child and his/her problems. The purpose is to enhance positive mental health rather than focus on disease.
A decade of work is now slowly creating an awareness of Dyslexia and other childhood problems in population.
He said it makes him sad when he meets children in the age group of 8 to 14 and they tell him that they do not feel like doing anything. That they would just prefer not to do anything.
“These are serious utterances. If the child is not given a chance to de-stress this same child will grow up to become violent and aggressive and will one day become a burden on both the family and society, “said the doctor.
He suggested that we teach ‘critical thinking to our child, understand what we really want out of our kid and evaluate what the child is capable of doing actually.
“Goal of education is and must be to free the mind, it must not enchain and produced individuals with wrapped personality,” said Dr Bajpai.
Agreeing with what Dr Bajpai had to say that in a country like India going to a psychiatric hospital is a taboo or a stigma it is not easy to heal the scars in a child’s mind, but he stressed that each school and in fact all health centers must have a mental health counseling cell.
Dr Augustine Veliath, UNICEF’s communication specialist, said that December 11, being the birthday of UNICEF he hopes that there is a healthier, happier state for Uttar Pradesh’s children.
“Mental health is a forgotten right of child development and we are glad Media Nest has focused media attention in that direction,” said Mr. Veliath while addressing the media. He said as parents what we can really give our children is not money and expensive gifts but a patient ear.
The programme was conducted by the secretary general of Media Nest, Kulsum Talha.
(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest)
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