Over 41,000 personnel trained for protecting children’s mental health wellbeing: Union minister Smriti Irani

New Delhi: Over 41,000 personnel across 28 states have been trained for protecting mental health wellbeing of children, especially those who are in distress and vulnerable circumstances under the government’s initiative SAMVAD, Union minister Smriti Irani said on Tuesday.

Support Advocacy and Mental health interventions for children in Vulnerable circumstances And Distress (SAMVAD) is a national initiative to address mental health issues and provide psychosocial care to children.

Speaking to the media about the initiative by NIMHANS, Women and Child Development minister Irani said the government has invested Rs 56 crore for five years into the programme, which was started last year.

She said the states have been asked to give a customised solution in local languages to help these children.

“Since June 2020, we have reached out to 28 states, have done over 300 programmes of sensitisation and training, trained over 41,000 personnel, in 368 training programmes professionals and 95 public discourse,” Irani said.

Elaborating further, Shekhar Sheshadri, Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS, said these personnel include staff of child care institutions, district child protection units, master trainers in CHILDLINE.

He said the programme is going to be further taken to the panchayat level.

“We are going to take it to panchayat level to train personnel on identifying mental health issues and how to link it to social welfare schemes, especially 112 aspirational districts. We will be concentrating on it,” Sheshadri said.

Under SAMVAD, child care institution professionals will also be trained, he said.

He said tele-counselling, case management and weekly consultations will be held.

Irani said the objective is to ensure that every individual in childcare institution is trained so SAMVAD begins in 2020.

“Our objective now is that in this year when VATSALYA is rolled out, we ensure that every personnel who is serving in child care institution also mandatorily get this skill set as well because our endeavour is that many crimes, which can be prevented if these kind of initiatives and interventions are made,” she said.

Mission VATSALYA will look into child protection services and child welfare services.

Sheshadri said the programme works under four thematic areas – protection, mental health, education and policy and law.

“A need for concentrating on the mental health of children was felt. There was a need for systemisation and standardisation of protocols, procedures and interventions but the issue was the mental health knowledge had some limitations and SAMVAD aims to establish uniform standardised protocols which are also state specific,” he said.

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