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DIMHANS conduct an awareness program on mental health needs of children for school teachers

Dharwad: The Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (DIMHANS) Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit and Community Mental Health Unit, in collaboration with the Office of the Block Education Officer and the Cluster Resource Center, recently held a two-day webinar on child mental health for Hubballi taluk government primary and secondary school teachers.

Ashokkumar Sindagi, Block Education Officer, and Gowramma, Cluster Coordinator, facilitated the program to raise awareness of children’s mental health needs among teachers, particularly during COVID-19.

 The two-day session was attended by nearly 400 teachers of various government rural schools of Hubballi and Dharwad taluk.

The resource persons for the webinar were Dr. Mahesh Desai, Director of DIMHANS, Dr. Sahithya BR, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, and Ashok Kori, Psychiatric Social Worker.

Dr. Mahesh Desai spoke about the importance of child mental health, the immediate problems and long-term consequences associated with untreated psychiatric conditions in children, and the benefits of early identification, referral and treatment of such children.

Ashok Kori gave a detailed description of various psychiatric conditions experienced by children and adolescents, symptomatology, and how to identify such conditions. He also explained the biological and psychosocial causes of these disorders, and the treatment options available.

Dr. Sahithya BR spoke about the role of teachers in the management of children’s mental health problems, how to identify such children, and what teachers need to do when they come across a child with mental health problems. She also emphasized the importance of mental health among the teachers themselves and gave some tips on stress management. The talks also focused on child mental health in the context of the COVID19 pandemic, and solutions to problems arising out of the lockdowns.

The talk was followed by an interactive session where the teachers’ doubts were solved. They also asked for help with managing some of the children they were having difficulties with.

 Dr. Mahesh Desai addressed each of these concerns and gave suggestions on how to manage these children. Each of the children they reported was thoroughly discussed.

While some children needed brief intervention, some cases were more severe, which required detailed assessment, psychotherapy and medication. Teachers were encouraged to inform the students and their parents about consulting with specialists.

 Some of the highlights of the interactive sessions

  • Need for a certified training program for teachers on basic child mental health in order to teach teachers early identification of child mental health problems, assessment, and basic counselling skills.
  • Need for training in Specific Learning Disability remediation.
  • Regular visits from specialists from DIMHANS to rural schools of Hubballi-Dharwad.

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