App puts spotlight on kids' mental well-being

With younger children now fighting depression, aggression and body image issues, a new app is helping parents and teachers fight the problem over chat window

City psychologists confirmed that they have been getting patients as young as 11 and 12 ; The app has facilitated easy communication between parents and teachersCity psychologists confirmed that they have been getting patients as young as 11 and 12 ; The app has facilitated easy communication between parents and teachers

How do you deal with your child's emotional or psychological problems? For most parents in the city, who are witnessing early onset of depression, aggression or body image issues among their children, the challenge has always been reaching out to the school teachers, who are most privy to their kids' problems. But, a new app is now helping bridge that distance and facilitating quick communication between parents, teachers and school authorities in the city.

The Teno App, which is currently being used by 60 schools in the city and over 3,000 across India, serves as a chat messenger-like platform for students and parents alike. If your school is registered with the app, parents and teachers can join using the school code number, create independent profiles and then reach out to each other to discuss pertinent issues related to the students.

From chat discussions on the app, it has become more evident that children as young as 11 are now battling psychological trauma and body image issues.

Confirming the disturbing trend, Mumbai-based child psychologists Dr Kunal Kala and Seema Hingorany said that teachers and parents should play an important role in nipping the issue in the bud. "Excessive social media exposure is only increasing these problems," said Hingorany. "Depressive episodes, social withdrawal and aggression, need to be identified minutely to reach out to a child in time. This has to be explained to teachers at schools," added Dr Kala.

In order to address the problem first hand, the app makers will be conducting a workshop today for schools to use the communication tool effectively.

"During our interaction with teachers and principals we were told that parents were outsourcing their child's responsibility to the school. On the other hand, parents said they wanted to contribute towards their children's growth, but found it difficult to connect with a teacher or principal," said Priyanka Prabhu, senior manager marketing, Teno App. "We realised that both parties wanted the same thing, but there was a gap in communication," Prabhu added.

When contacted, Savita Venkat, principal, Bombay Cambridge School, supported the idea. "Even if every school has a counsellor, it's the teachers who mostly interact with the students. Training them is the best way to deal with the problem."

Rajvi Shah, a parent of a 10-year-old and a working professional from Kandivli, said, "Due to our hectic lives, it is not possible to regularly keep meeting teachers at school. Such a platform will allow parents to reach out to teachers and stay updated about their child."

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