School Initiative for Mental Health Advocacy (SIMHA)
SBI Foundation, in partnership with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, is supporting The School Initiative for Mental Health Advocacy (SIMHA) which is a mental health advocacy, research and capacity building project. SIMHA is working towards creating mental health friendly educational institutions and schools across India. Through its on-field research and multiple stakeholder interactions, SIMHA has established a contextually relevant framework for whole-school mental health practices for India, based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) whole-school mental health approach.
Vision and Values
With support from SBI Foundation, SIMHA envisions to establish sustainable mental health educational systems across educational boards and contexts in India. Embedded in the core values of integrity, collaboration, diversity, intersectionality, equity and social justice, SIMHA operates through a strengths-based approach to establish schools as communities of care for all stakeholders. SIMHA collaborates and works closely with educational institutions, public and private sectors organizations in the field of education and schools across India.
• To advocate for mental health and well-being of children and adolescents through sensitization, capacity building and collaboration with key stakeholders within and outside the school system.
• To generate contextually relevant research on mental health needs, challenges and best practices within school systems across India.
• To support schools in fostering resilience and enhancing mental health and well-being through mapping of community needs, identification and optimal utilization of resources and strategic action planning.
Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent nationwide lockdown resulted in fear and confusion for many. During these trying times, while children and young people may have been less vulnerable to infection, they were experiencing increased psychological and emotional vulnerability. As schools closed abruptly in March 2020, most children had no access to any physical space beyond their homes. The rhythm of regular routine was gone, and play, learning and access to peers was also limited for many. Children who were living in unsafe or violent homes had no place else to go.
As the lockdown continued, schools and educators were struggling with challenges in addressing the risks and vulnerabilities that children were experiencing during these times. In response to the emerging needs of the community, SIMHA began the COVID-19 outreach and community work in early April 2020 with a key focus on advocating for children’s rights and safety during the pandemic, sensitising and building capacities of all stakeholders and strengthening resilience and promoting well-being of all students. SBI Foundation has been supporting the following initiatives under Project SIMHA since August 2020:
14th August – 31st August, 2020: Back to School Programme
• 3 webinars for school teachers and counsellors
• One-on-One online school consultations
• 482 participants from India, Qatar, Kuwait, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt
September – October 2020: Fostering Resilience and Well-being Programme
• 22 Webinars for school leaders, teachers and counsellors across four series in English, Hindi and Kannada
• Collaborations with CENTA, Rotary Karnataka and The Teacher Foundation
• 4560 participants from India, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Nepal, Indonesia and Australia
Impact and Outreach: Since August 2020, SIMHA with support SBI Foundation, SIMHA has trained over 4560 key stakeholders including 3631 teachers, 514 school leaders and principals, and 415 counsellors and special educators from over 100 cities, districts and towns across 25 states and 4 Union Territories (UT) from India and internationally.
Circle of Care – A campaign to celebrate the World Mental Health Day 2020
The campaign was a month-long endeavour in October and culminated with an online event on 6th November 2020. The campaign, supported by SBI Foundation was designed to celebrate the initiatives undertaken by schools across India to support the emotional well-being and resilience of students during the pandemic. The recorded event can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/xb2hG-mrE_Y
The School Initiative for Mental Health Advocacy (SIMHA), a field-action project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), supported by the SBI Foundation, is proud to launch the Well-being Ambassadors Programme (WAP). The WAP is a 10-month programme that aims to empower students to be at the forefront of the mental health and well-being advocacy movement in their educational institutes and thereby create communities that foster psychosocial well-being.
It is a unique programme geared towards training and empowering select youth of India to understand and develop mental health programmes for their peers within higher educational settings. Through the WAP, students will build skills as young leaders in the field of mental health advocacy and get opportunities to interact with and be mentored by experts from the fields of mental health and education. They will get hands-on experience implementing mental health initiatives and receive continuous supervision during this process. They will also engage and collaborate with students from across the country through ongoing peer support sessions. We hope that the WAP will be a catalyst for the mental health advocacy movement in institutions across the country and encourage young students to become leaders in the field of mental health.
The WAP aims to empower and support current university-enrolled students to be at the forefront of well-being advocacy and programme development in their respective institutes and thereby create communities that foster psychosocial well-being.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the programme are:
● To create and enhance mental health and well-being awareness among ambassadors and their peers at their respective institutes across India.
● To equip ambassadors with the knowledge and skills required to understand, create, implement, and evaluate well-being programmes for their peers at their respective institutes.
● To support ambassadors in their growth towards becoming future leaders of mental health and well-being advocacy.
Frequently Asked Questions :
● What is the Well-being Ambassadors Programme (WAP)? The WAP is a 10-month programme that aims to empower students to be at the forefront of the mental health and well-being advocacy movement in their educational institutes. Students across India will receive mentorship to design and lead mental health promotion and prevention programmes in their educational institutes, thereby creating communities that foster psychosocial well-being.
● What does the programme entail? In the first month of the WAP, ambassadors shall attend comprehensive training sessions online to give them the knowledge and skills required to develop well-being programmes in their institutions. Following this, ambassadors will conduct a needs assessment based on which they will develop, implement and evaluate tailored well-being programmes in their institutions.
● How will the programme benefit me? Through the WAP, ambassadors will build skills as young leaders in the field of mental health advocacy and get opportunities to interact with and be mentored by experts from the fields of mental health and education. They will get hands-on experience implementing mental health initiatives and receive continuous supervision during this process. They will also engage and collaborate with students from across the country through ongoing peer support sessions.
● I am part of the management of my institute. How will the Well-being Ambassadors Programme benefit my institute? In addition to the student’s personal development, the WAP will empower them to design and implement programs that will benefit your institute and promote the mental health and well-being of all students and staff. The implementation of such programs can potentially improve student outcomes while fostering a safe and positive educational environment
● Who are we looking for? We are looking for students who are passionate about youth mental health and are keen to take on leadership roles and responsibilities. They must be willing to collaborate and work closely with their peers and develop, implement, and evaluate well-being programmes for their educational institutes.
● How many ambassadors will be selected for the 2022-2023 cohort? The 2022-2023 cohort will have ten ambassadors from educational institutes across India working towards creating positive mental health and well-being spaces within their institutions focused on the principles of awareness and advocacy.
● Why is the programme 10-months long? The 10-month commitment is necessary to develop, implement and evaluate impactful well-being programmes.
● Where will the Programme be held? The implementation of the well-being programmes will happen in the ambassadors’ respective institutions. All other aspects of the WAP, including peer support sessions, training and mentorship, will be conducted over virtual meeting platforms.
● What type of a well-being programme will I develop? All programmes developed and implemented by the ambassadors will ONLY be promotive and preventive in nature. Ambassadors will NOT create programmes that offer intervention services. The Well-being Ambassador Programme is not a professional degree or course and will not train students as mental health practitioners.
● Will I have support when implementing my well-being programme? Who are the mentors within the Well-being Ambassadors Programme team? Each ambassador will be matched with a member of the SIMHA team who will be their mentor during the programme. These mentors are professionals who have extensive experience in mental health, research and capacity building initiatives. Mentors will guide ambassadors at every step of the programme to ensure the ethical implementation of programmes and create a supportive and encouraging experience for all ambassadors
● Will I receive a stipend during the programme? The programme involves no costs borne by the ambassadors. All ambassadors will receive a monthly stipend of 5000 rupees/month during the five months of programme implementation and evaluation. This stipend will be used for any resources and materials required to implement their well-being programmes.
● When and how can I apply for the programme? Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort are closed. For additional information please contact email@example.com