JAMMU: After successfully running the Mental Health Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) program at the Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (IMHANS), Srinagar, the government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has progressively extended the program to Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu.
The program is aimed to generate desired behavioral changes to affected populations especially children by creating an enabling environment and building resilience by providing MHPSS for children, adolescents, and young people through communication, schools, CCI’s, and other platforms.
During the pandemic, it was critical that people with Mental Health and Psychosocial Support issues, receive support and appropriate care. This required new interventions of service and a careful review of the existing MHPSS activities to maintain the functionality of service users during periods of movement restrictions and lockdowns.
The Health and Medical Education department of J&K also started the Child Guidance and Wellbeing Center (CGWC) in December 2018 at the IMHANS under the MHPSS program supported by UNICEF.
As per the data released by the IMHANS over 9992 children and adolescents including 2845 females have been provided mental health treatment at the CGWC.
In 2020, the IMHANS registered 3245 new patients while the number of new registrations was 2836 in 2019.
The CGWC provided Psychological First Aid (PFA) to 1832 children including 636 girls during the CoVID-19 pandemic when the socio-ecological environment got profoundly affected with many social support systems becoming dysfunctional or overburdened, caregivers falling sick or dying, income and livelihood opportunities becoming threatened increasing stress levels.
The IMHANS also provided tele-counseling services to 6320 children and adolescents via its helpline numbers. Its various teams reached out to children via social media and mass media to provide mental health and psychosocial support during the pandemic.
At the IMHANS, the experts are engaged in imparting skills among frontline workers to enable them to deliver MHPSS services for children experiencing a crisis.
As part of the capacity building, the IMHANS have conducted training programs with teachers, para-legal volunteers, religious scholars, law students, parents, and caregivers.
The CGWC has also reached 1226 beneficiaries during COVID-19 through open-air psychoeducation sessions (MHPSS on wheels) and issued more than 10,000 advisories.
The IMHANS is planning to conduct capacity-building programs for child protection, mental health functionaries/stakeholders all over Kashmir with Integrated Child Protection Society of J&K, Schools, Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, legal service authority, DMHP teams, ChildLine, etc.
Due to the current pandemic crisis, the IMHANS is expanding the MHPSS on Wheels initiative to far flung areas to cater and strengthen the community based preventive model.