Mental health is a taboo subject in most Indian households, particularly if related with young children and adolescents. The social stigma associated with mental illness diagnosis inhibits most parents from acknowledging, let alone taking children to counseling clinics and psychiatrists. Discomfort and shame of admitting that a child may be suffering a mental disorder prompts most parents to dismiss behaviour problems, anxiety attacks and social phobias of children as bad behaviour and indiscipline, which will get better with time and enforcement of strict rules.
Sustained silence around this issue has created a national child mental health crisis. According to a report titled Mental Health Status of Adolescents in South-East Asia: Evidence for Action published by the World Health Organisation last year, 25 percent of adolescents in India in the 13-15 years age group are clinically depressed. An earlier 2015-16 study conducted by the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore highlighted that 9.8 million teenagers in the 13-17 years age group suffer mental disorders and are in “need of active intervention”. In the Google age where the Internet and social media are ubiquitous, children and adolescents are facing unprecedented peer, parental and social pressure to excel in academics, careers and relationships.
In our cover story this month, we spotlight the alarming childhood-adolescent mental health crisis confronting the country and the dangers of teens with unaddressed mental disorders transforming into maladjusted adults. With double income nuclear families becoming normative in urban India, all the mental health experts and child psychiatrists interviewed for this feature advise parents to be observant and vigilant about behaviour changes, provide children showing signs of stress their unconditional emotional support and proactively seek professional help. They warn that social, emotional and mental well-being of adolescents is the prerequisite of success in academics, careers and personal relationships.
In this issue, we also present selected awardees of the EducationWorld Grand Jury Awards 2018-19 conferred trophies and certificates at the blockbuster EW India School Rankings Awards 2018-19 Nite held in Delhi NCR on September 27-28. EducationWorld (an affiliate of ParentsWorld) celebrated and awarded schools in 11 categories including STEAM education excellence, community outreach, innovative teaching among others selected by an eminent jury of highly respected educationists. To access the complete pictorial essay of the awards nite, visit www.educationworld.in.
Moreover, check out the Health & Nutrition essay by Vellore-based pediatrician Dr. Gita Mathai and Academic Advantage feature on how to build mind maps which sharpen memorisation, self-learning and study skills.