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Mental Health Intervention Aides Training Program

Issue

The World Health Organisation estimates that 15-20 per cent of children across the world are affected by developmental disabilities. Eighty five per cent of them belong to low-middle income countries. Developmental disabilities rarely occur in isolation and patients are often confronted with a dual diagnosis of co-morbid conditions. Several studies have examined and established mental health co-morbidities in developmental disabilities.

Presently, there is a large unmet need for mental health care in India. Since mental health care is offered as specialised care only at the tertiary level, its functioning often depends upon a strong cross-referral mechanism between the primary and secondary health care services.

However, training gaps, infrastructure failures and the paucity of trained mental health professionals coupled with the interaction of intangible and unaccountable socio-cultural beliefs historically linked to mental illness pose a major challenge to the diagnosis, acceptance and treatment of the same.

The Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation has supported Ummeed Child Development Centre in its various endeavours including the Mental Health Training Programme, the Mental Health Advanced Skill Programme, the Awareness and Basic Counselling Skills Programme and to build organisational capacity.

Objective

In 2010, Ummeed successfully developed and piloted a 6-month, part time Mental Health Training Programme (MHTP) with the objective of creating a replicable model for greater sustainability as well as resource building in the community on a larger scale. The focus of this programme is to provide a thorough grounding in the ideas and practices of narrative approaches to working with individuals, families, groups and communities.

Project

The Mental Health Training Programme (MHTP) extends over a year and is open to all individuals interested in working with children and families With the support of the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, Ummeed piloted two rounds of the Mental Health Training Programme (MHTP), following which its Mental Health (MH) team felt the need to revise the teaching curriculum and to make this training programme available to a larger number of organisations / schools / NGOs.

In 2012, the entire Mental Health team at Ummeed was specially trained by Narrative Therapists. This in-house training consequently created an opportunity for the Ummeed Child Development Centre to collaborate with Narrative Practices Adelaide to develop the curriculum for the third round of the Mental Health Training Programme in 2013.

Impact

With the support rendered by the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, the Mental Health Training Programme trained around 50 people in Basic Counselling Skills and 28 workers in Advanced Counselling Skills to work with children and families. It has also enabled institutional collaborations with Muktangan, the Aangan Trust, Utkarsh, Prayas, The Sunshine School, Central Society for Education of the Deaf, EAR, NSS Hill Spring International School, Forum for Autism, The Anchorage, The Doorstep School, Teach for India, The Orchid School, Sethu and many more.

This programme empowered trainees, equipping them with techniques to deal with key issues that arise in counselling children and families, as well as groups. Many trainees also reported positive changes in terms of interactions in their personal lives through assimilation of knowledge, information and skills for working with people.

About the Organisation

Ummeed Child Development Centre is a non-profit organisation that has been actively working towards training communities to address the unique needs of children suffering from developmental disorders – either by empowering parents to take a lead role in childcare or through various training programmes for teachers, caregivers and children’s aides.