Mental health in students is beginning to be an area of priority in the field of education. In partnership with the Fortis Mental Health Programme, GD Goenka University held a one-of-its-kind national summit, VARTAH, to initiate a deeper conversation into the rising concerns in this area of mental health for school students, evoking a large participation from educators and school counsellors all across India.
Awareness with VARTAH:
The acronym VARTAH stands for ‘Value-Awareness-Reform-Thrive-Action-Hope’. The institutions had a well-defined set of objectives for the summit, which included effectively addressing risk behavior among students at the school level, promoting meaningful dialogue, initiating reform in educational spaces, and taking decisive action to ensure children and adolescents are assisted with comprehensive development for their overall well-being.
VARTAH, thus, aims to tackle the culture surrounding mental health in educational areas with a view of making it a more positive one. It also hopes to equip school counsellors with the skills and strategies necessary to ensure that the psychological health of students is effectively nurtured.
With the diverse perspectives of various experts from the international field of education, such as speakers from King’s University in Canada and James Cook University in Singapore, the event was able to offer applicable solutions to problems that ail the health of students mentally. This also allowed for discussions about how the cultural differences in different places influence real-life dealings with respect to the management of such problems.
Dr. Samir Parikh, Chairperson of Fortis National Mental Health Programme, emphasized the significance of empowering children during their formative years with essential life skills. He believes that this empowerment plays a crucial role in helping them confidently navigate life’s challenges with self-belief and resilience. Dr. Parikh stressed the importance of recognizing and nurturing individual paths of success for young minds, ensuring they possess the necessary tools to build meaningful relationships and make positive contributions to the society they inhabit. Additionally, he highlighted the pressing and ever-growing need to integrate mental health and well-being into the education system, as this will foster the overall positive growth of students, enabling them to thrive in all aspects of life.
Role of Mental Health for Students:
As per a 2020 report by the National Crime Reports Bureau’s (NCRB) Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI), more than 8.2% of students lose their lives by suicide. Bullying and academic stress prove to be major threats to the psychological health of students.
In hosting VARTAH, GD Goenka University and Fortis Mental Health Programme take a step towards prioritizing the de-stigmatization of mental health in the educational field. Through this event, school counsellors and educators receive a learning platform to understand better how to efficiently manage the mental health concerns in students. Thus, the organizers and attendees uphold the noble aim of creating an effective framework of mental health care within systems of education, to approach students’ mental aspect of health issues proactively and compassionately.
From the Dean:
Anjali Midha Sharan, the Dean of R&D at GD Goenka University’s School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education, emphasized the purpose of VARTAH. Firstly, it aims to clear the taboo surrounding mental illness and mental health in general, and secondly, it aims to equip counsellors with essential skills to support vulnerable adolescents effectively. The event brings together mental health experts, school counsellors, and teachers, providing a platform for constructive discussions on the necessary actions to promote the psychological well-being of the youth. The dean also highlights the alignment that this initiative shares with that of the University’s commitment to prioritize mental well-being and integrate psychological health into mainstream education.