Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Formation of the Dept. of Mental Health, WERC

Looking at the gravity of the situation at hand and the weight of the responsibility being shouldered by BJS, a Department of Mental Health has been set up at WERC with Dr. Ashutosh Chauhan as the Head of the Dept and Dr. Kinjal Goyal (Mental Health Consultant-BJS). After a series of visits to WERC and interactions with the stakeholders and the students by Dr. Chauhan, Dr. Kinjal and Mr. Shantilal Muttha, (Founder, BJS), an MoU was signed between BJS, Meadowlark Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. and Dr. Kinjal Goyal on 29th January 2016 to formalize this association. Together they would roll out diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic interventions for the children at WERC. Dr. Ashutosh Chauhan would offer his professional services with his team of three consultant clinical psychologists at Meadowlark Healthcare.

Dr. Ashutosh Chauhan (MD, Psychiatry) is one of the leading psychiatrists in Pune. His areas of interest include Neuropsychiatry and Neuro-developmental/ Child Psychiatry. He has scores of publications and research papers to his credit, which he has presented at several national and international forums, this includes several research papers and dissertation in the field of Suicidology. Several awards have been conferred upon him with for his stellar achievements and contribution in the field of psychiatry. He has been often invited as a speaker in various national and international conferences and  symposia, such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists at London, Japanese Society of Psychiatrists and Neurologists, Japan. He was selected for the world psychiatrists' association’s young fellowship program to represent Indian Subcontinent and was later selected by AMH (an organization started by Prof. Norman Sartorius) to represent India for the Leadership course for Young psychiatrists at Singapore. Dr. Chauhan is associated with several leading hospitals in the city and is heading mental health services at Meadowlark Healthcare, an organization with fully equipped specialty and super- specialty polyclinics and comprehensive diagnostic facility across two locations of Fatima Nagar and Shivajinagar in Pune.

Dr. Kinjal Goyal (Ph.D. (Health Psychology)), is a practising psychotherapist and Psychosomatic Counselling and the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of various psychological and physical issues is her forte. She has completed Basic and Advanced Labs in Human Processes with the Indian Society for Applied Behavioural Sciences and has completed certificate courses  in Psychopharmacology, CBT and Treatments that work with Children from the American Psychological Association. She has worked in the field of online psychotherapy for many years with a client base spanning over 9 countries. She has conducted various workshops for adolescents and parents in various schools in Pune.  She has authored  publications such as a self help book  titled Musings of a Shrink  and also has a creative piece Ashes off the Embers to her credit.

Interventions by Meadowlark Healthcare

As a part of the diagnostic screening, Meadowlark Healthcare has identified CPMS (Childhood Psychopathology Measurement Schedule) as a sensitive screening tool, which has already been validated in the Indian context. It is easy to use and is intended to yield best results for this population. (CPMS is standardized on Indian population and is applicable to children of both sexes in the age range of 4-14 years. It measures overall psychopathology in the form of total scores and also the type of psychopathology in the form of eight factorially derived syndromes which have satisfactory reliability and validity. CPMS is proposed to be used as a screening instrument in population surveys to identify disturbed children as well as a research tool involving measurement of childhood psychopathology and its classification.)

With the need to have a care-model which not only takes care of intervention, but also of the prevention aspect, Meadowlark Healthcare would interact with WERC teachers (both hostel and school teachers) and care-givers on an on-going basis. This would be initiated through an interactive workshop for the staff at WERC, primarily with the following objectives:
-to enable them to  understand the difference between normal behavioural changes and pathological behaviour, or a pattern that is a deviation from what is considered as normal;
-to acquaint them with the screening tool, to understand the implication of each item on this tool and to enable them to administer the same properly, in the desired time frame and record the results appropriately.
Based on the results of the screening performed by the teachers, Meadowlark Healthcare would formulate a combination of non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment plan as per the gravity of the problem diagnosed. The screening results would be used to categorize the students according to the intensity of treatment required. 

The Need for Manthan

The need for educational rehabilitation of children
The loss of a loved one and especially an earning member always deals a cruel blow to the kith and kin of the victim. Matters become worse for the impoverished and the marginalized sections of the society; the economic impact of the tragedy is compounded by the psychological impact on the traumatized family members. Very often, the children are left alone at home to fend for themselves. In the absence of proper care and timely attention to such children, myriad personal and social problems surface for them and they succumb to cycles of trauma, depression and loss of purpose in their early lives. Thus, it is crucial to constructively engage them and channelize their minds in the proper direction when tragedy strikes. In order to address this issue, undertaking the entire responsibility of these children, providing good quality education to them and nurturing them to be  responsible citizens could be a very effective solution.

The need for a long-term intervention

Over the last few years the drought crisis has become very acute. Factors such as deficient rainfall, lack of adequate supply of rainwater for irrigation, lack of water and fodder for the livestock, failed crops, bankruptcy or indebtedness arising due to inability of farmers to repay agricultural loans etc. exponentially deteriorates their economic condition. This leads to a lot of stress and emotional turmoil within their families. The mounting turmoil and anguish snowballs into the farmers' showing suicidal tendencies with several of them eventually committing suicide. Witnessing such a depressing scenario day in and day out, adversely impacts the psychology of the children therein. They too are likely to yield to trauma and depression, as proven by international research studies.
In Perspective
Suicide features among the top three causes of death among the youth worldwide. Young adults are a particularly vulnerable group and currently show the highest rates of suicide the world over. India ranks 11th out of 170 countries reported in 2012 (WHO suicide rates). Several factors come into play while we try and assess the causes behind suicides and suicidal tendencies in children and adults. Several events like early parental deprivation, recent bereavement and a family history of suicidal behaviour have been found to be very closely associated with precipitating suicidal tendencies in the offspring of the parents who have committed suicide. (Badrinarayana: A Study of suicidal risk factors in depressive illness, Indian J Psychiatry. 1980;22:81–3).

What global research says on child survivors of parental suicides
Worldwide research indicates that children of parents who have committed suicide are at the highest risk of attempting suicide themselves. 

A study led by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, May 2010 edition) that is believed to be the largest one to date on the subject, has revealed the following:
1) Those who lost a parent to suicide as children or teens were three times more likely to commit suicide than children and teenagers with living parents.
2) Those who lost parents to suicide were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for depression as those with living parents.
3) Child survivors of parental suicide were at a particularly high risk of hospitalization for drug disorders and psychosis.
4) All offspring who experienced parental death, regardless of mode or age, were at increased risk for violent criminal convictions.

MANTHAN: A BJS initiative under 'WERC-ENG' (Wagholi Educational Rehabilitation Centre- Empowering the Next Generation)

Pre-emption of a possible future crisis on the already victimized families of Maharashtra, is now a prime concern for Bharatiya JainSanghatana (BJS). To this end, BJS has worked out a plan for the creation, development and the sustainability of a Mental Health support system at WERC towards ensuring the psycho- social well-being of this extremely vulnerable group of children. 'Manthan', the programme on mental health, will aim to contribute towards the achievement of some of the critical outcomes of the larger project i.e. to nurture a positive attitude in these children for enabling them to become productive and responsible members of the society and also to help increase their educational and general outcomes through a focused improvement in their physical as well as mental health.


·     -To save the children of farmers who have committed suicides from the eventual outcomes of it. Theseoutcomes may include sensitive issues like mental instability, stagnation of growth, depression, crime, alcoholism, and so on.
·        -To give children the opportunity to identify and understand their maximum capacity in their different zones and utilize it to the maximum
·       -To give sound, hygienic and positive living atmosphere and to concentrate on all-round improvement of students
·        -To involve students in curricular and extra-curricular activities to identify their abilities and skills
·        -To enable the students to utilize their potential and nurture them to prosper in their future
·        -To inspire the students to focus on their lives by concentrating on their interested career path
·        -To empower the children to be the change agents for bettering the socio-economic prospects of their own families and communities, by availing and leveraging the opportunities that good education can provide