ToT on Adolescent Mental Health
Childhood and adolescent mental health can be described as the capacity to reach developmental and emotional milestones, learn social skills and cope with problems. Sound mental health of children and adolescents is crucial for their personal growth, educational achievements, social relationships, work and economic participation, family stability and community development. In 2009, the Government of India launched the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). An important component of these services is counselling for mental health and emotional well-being.
In Tamil Nadu, the Directorate of Social Defence (DSD), implements the scheme through 32 District Child Protection Units (DCPUs). A counsellor attached to each DCPU looks after the mental health needs of vulnerable children and adolescents in that district.
Since 2016, SIAAP has been working in partnership with DSD and UNICEF to strengthen capacities of counsellors towards building a cadre of community volunteers in Tamil Nadu who will provide counselling and support to improve the mental and emotional health and well-being of vulnerable children in conflict with law, and currently housed in observation homes in Tamil Nadu.
Evidence shows that children in observation homes suffer high degrees of mental and emotional stress, in part, because of being classified as an anti-social by society at an impressionable age, and, in part, because of their loss of freedom, poor family support, and lack of access to educational and other facilities necessary for mental and emotional stability. This results in feelings of loss of self-esteem, fear, despair, and futility. Without adequate help, these emotions usually translate into substance addiction, depression, and acts of rage, violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, and self-harm, all of which further damage the child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Counselling is an important strategy to help children address difficult emotions that are potentially harmful to oneself and to others. In counselling, the counsellor will build a relationship with the child through offering personal attention, support, listening, and empathizing, so as to support the child through his emotions, thoughts, and problems, restore feelings of dignity and self-esteem, and guide him to find solutions and strategies to cope with his present situation, gain self-confidence, and have a positive perspective for the future. An integral aspect of counselling is to create a feeling of safety and security in the child, build trust, help him reflect upon his behaviour, set goals, identify strengths and areas for change, and reinforce positive behaviours.
In this project, we have identified community volunteers as an integral component in helping children in conflict with law in Tamil Nadu during the period of their stay in observation homes in the state.
Phase 1 (October 2016-January 2017)
SIAAP initiated a Trainer of Trainers Programme on Basic Counselling Principles and Skills programme for counsellors attached to the District Child Protection Units (DCPU).
Specific objectives in Phase 1 were to –
A total of 28 counsellors and 19 social workers completed training on Basic Counselling Principles and Skills as part of Phase 1.
Phase 2 (March 2017 – December 2017):
Broadly, the programme includes three sets of trainings interspersed with supportive supervision on site (i) Advanced training, (ii) Refresher training, and (iii) Training of Trainers (ToT).
Specific objectives in Phase 2 were to –
After training, participants reported a very high increase in supportive attitudes.