BMC schools introduce Smiling Mumbai programme for mental health awareness

Updated: Sep 07, 2019, 08:16 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Civic body initiates Smiling Mumbai programme to help address mental health issues among adolescent students at civic schools

BMC schools introduce Smiling Mumbai programme for mental health awareness
Representation pic/ Getty Images

Given the rising number of mental health issues amid the youth, the BMC has tied up with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and NGO Project Mumbai to introduce counselling for teachers and principals of all BMC-run schools across the city. The school staff will be trained by certified counsellors to enable them to identify students suffering from depression or other mental health issues.

A 14-year-old boy from Vasai last year committed suicide after he was allegedly yelled at for failing to pay his school fees. The boy had been suffering from depression that had gone unnoticed.

The BMC has now collaborated with several mental wellness institutions across Mumbai to aid its initiative in around 1,200 civic-run schools and benefit over three lakh adolescents in the next five years. The programme has been named Smiling Mumbai, which will also help teachers cope with their own issues at home and work.

Multidimensional counselling

"Mental wellness is a growing concern and we are glad it is gradually becoming a part of everyday conversation. Increased awareness will only mean teachers and parents accepting and addressing the issue. It will positively impact the children and their growth," said Shishir Joshi, CEO and founder of Project Mumbai.

The counseling will begin from September 16 with as many as 150 schools participating in the first year.

Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC, said, "This is the need of the hour. This initiative has been undertaken in coordination with many institutions for a five-year duration at first."

Bullying, teacher-student relationships and peer relationships, happiness and wellbeing, stress and coping, emotional regulation and self-care will  be some of the topics discussed in the sessions that will employ a 'train-the-trainer' model.

Anxiety among teens

A study by King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital  in 2018 revealed a high prevalence of anxiety among school-going children in the city. One in 10 students in the age group of 8-15 years was suffering from anxiety while the ratio was 1: 5 in the 12-15 years age group, the study reported.

1,200
No. of civic-run schools to be part of the initiative

3,00,000
No. of adolescents to be part of initiative in five years

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