● The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019 is ‘Suicide Prevention’
● As per the WHO, 1 among 4 teens in India aged 13-15 years suffer from depression
Continuing with its efforts towards promoting the mental health and well-being of orphaned and vulnerable children, Miracle Foundation India, a fully-licensed Section 25 non-profit organization, organized a week-long Mental Health awareness campaign for World Mental Health Day 2019. Conducted across its partner children’s homes, the campaign focused on creating awareness about and engaging in positive mental health practices among the children (Aged 6 years and above), partners, and staff at Miracle Foundation India.
As per the World Health Organisation, one out of four teens in India between the ages of 13-15 years suffers from depression. In connection with this, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years and30% of suicides worldwide happen in India and China.
In light of this year’s theme, ‘Suicide Prevention’, Miracle Foundation India’s campaign was aimed at cultivating the social and emotional development of the children under their care. According to the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16, less than 10% of those suffering from this illness actually consult a professional. All of these statistics highlight the need for action, support, and awareness from the early phases of one’s life so that it doesn’t reach a stage where it’s too late.
Children who experience adversity such as poverty, broken families, trauma, difficult living situations,neglect, and any kind of abuse at an early stage of life are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, fear, depression, grief, self-harm, etc. Miracle Foundation India is committed to promoting the mental health and well-being of children in CCI’s by cultivating social-emotional development, building life skills, and developing coping strategies. This prepares them to cope with the stresses of life, achieve their full potential, and live a productive life from childhood to adolescence and on through adulthood.
Through their Mental Health Campaign this year, Miracle Foundation India conducted activities through the week which were focused on self-awareness, positive thoughts, identifying early signs of suicide/self-harm amongst children and providing proactive support, boosting self-esteem and differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ self-talk. These group-based activities were divided according to their relevance for children between 6-8 years, 9 years and above, and some activities for all age groups. They were led by Children’s Disciplinary/Anti-Bullying Committees and Youth Ambassadors. These groups were facilitated by social workers along with mental health professionals. Activities included skits, poster-making competitions, writing, visualization techniques, and boosting self-esteem through various other methods.
Speaking on the initiative, Nivedita DasGupta, Country Head, Miracle Foundation India said, “Apart from ensuring a safe and loving family environment for every child, it is essential to focus on psychosocial elements in their crucial years of development. At Miracle Foundation India, we have developed a strong framework for positive mental health practices of children under our care. This helps us to enable a loving and nurturing environment for children living in the CCIs, while they await transition to a family. Our Mental Health program has a prolonged approach of prevention and intervention aimed at the emotional and mental well being of every child.”
She added, “In light of World Mental Health Day 2019, we further propelled these efforts through our week-long activities. It was heartening to see the children interact with one another and hear them express some of their deepest thoughts. I am sure all of us – and not just the children – took back some important learnings from the campaign. ”
Deepika Gandhi, Mental Health Programme Coordinator, Miracle Foundation India shared, “We have Mental Health Resource Persons as Consultants for providing specialized mental health support to children & staff in the CCI’s. This comes in the form of individual counseling sessions for emotional needs and group counseling sessions for promoting emotional wellness in children & staff. These consultants are qualified professionals in the field and understand the needs of children while they are away from their family homes.”
Through its Mental Health Program, the Miracle Foundation India has put in place a strong system of mental health support, linking children, CCI social workers, house parents, caregivers, government officials, and NGOs. These practices are aimed at supporting children living in the CCIs with love and affection and counseling, which helps them overcome the trauma of being separated from their families.
About Miracle Foundation India – Miracle Foundation India is a fully-licensed Section 25 subsidiary of Miracle Foundation, an international non-profit organization that provides life-changing care to orphaned and vulnerable children. Their goal is to reunite children living in childcare institutions with their kin. Among the stellar results achieved by the foundation so far, the most notable is the fact it has empowered more than 13,800 orphaned children. Of the children directly supported by the organization, 100% are enrolled in school and receiving mental health and life skills training and 39% have been reunited with family.