With the exam season approaching, the Bombay Psychiatric Society (BPS) has stepped in to help check student suicides by training schoolteachers to identify signs of depression among children.
The training workshops began in December and have so far been held in 15 schools.
Two members of the Bombay Psychiatric Society have been visiting schools to conduct workshops for teachers to train them to identify early signs of distress and ensure timely intervention. The society has sent letters to 300 schools seeking their participation in holding these free workshops.
After a spate of suicides by students last year, BPS had initiated a campaign along with additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, KEM Hospital dean Dr Sanjay Oak and BMC’s education department.
It conducted a number of training workshops for BMC schoolteachers in all the three civic-run hospitals in Mumbai. “Now we want to take the initiative a step further by offering free training in as many schools as possible,” said Dr Henal Shah, president, Bombay Psychiatric Society.
The Bombay Psychiatric Society also intends to take help from local psychiatrists and counselors, residing near the school areas for this initiative. “We want to build a bridge between local mental health professionals and the schools, where these psychiatrists can visit the schools to conduct workshops. This will also help in reducing the stigma or reservations if any in minds of teachers about taking psychiatric help for such issues,” said Shah.
Chatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, in Vile Parle, is one of the early beneficiaries of such a workshop.
“Today children face many pressures ranging from studies, increased competition, parental pressures or tensions in the family. In a school setting, a teacher is the first person to identify abnormal behavior in a child. Workshops like these help us to identify such symptoms in children early,” said Sangita Kukreti, vice-principal of the school.
Dr Malay Dave, a member of BPS, who conducted one such workshop, said: “Teachers discussed other behavioral problems in children and gave a feedback that the workshop enabled them to understand what is happening to a child.”