Experts highlight the need for immediate action for promoting inner well-being and health among adolescents
WorldBeing Joins Hands with Bihar Government to Enhance Adolescent Wellbeing in the State - to reach approximately 35,000 government schools and 534 KGBVs, providing wellbeing skills to over 3.5 million Standard VI-VIII students annually
WorldBeing, a non-profit organization that works to foster inner health and wellbeing in marginalized and vulnerable youth, organized an event in Delhi today to highlight the need for immediate policy action for promoting inner well-being and health among adolescents. Their objective is to fulfill the aims of the National Education Policy | NEP, 2020 that focuses on developing individuals who possess not only cognitive abilities, but also a strong character, holistic perspectives, and essential 21st-century skills.
NCERT surveyed school students in 2022 about their thoughts on mental health and well-being. The survey revealed that students feel responsible for doing well in school, like school in general, but also feel anxious and have mood swings related to studies and exams, which points to the need for a holistic approach towards ensuring good mental health of school children. The conference titled Promoting Adolescent Wellbeing in Every School: Bihar Leads the Way, was aimed as a brainstorming session amongst policymakers, educators, and mental health experts to help devise strategies to meet the urgent need.
The event had renowned speakers and participants from the Departments of Health and Education from the Government of Bihar and officials from the Union Education and Health Ministries, mental health and adolescent health experts, researchers, practitioners, Civil Society Organisations, and funding agencies. The discussion included school-based approaches and actions needed to promote positive outcomes for adolescents’ mental health.
The event also included an engaging panel discussion titled Putting schools at the core of Well-being/Ensuring Schools become supportive ecosystems to foster well-being: The why and the How. Panelists included Dr. Ruchi Shukla and Dr. Sushmita Chakraborty—ManoDarpan Cell, NCERT and co-authors of the NCERT Mental Health study of School Children, Ms. Dinu Raheja—The Global Education and Leadership Foundation, and Dr. Monika Arora—Public Health Foundation of India. The event also had an interesting session with a few students from Government schools in Bihar and their teachers speaking about their experiences of being a part of the WorldBeing programs.
In alignment with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, WorldBeing’s endeavors will complement Manodarpan, a program by the Ministry of Education | MoE that seeks to offer psychosocial assistance to students, teachers, and families, promoting mental health and emotional well-being.
“Promoting the wellbeing of students is crucial to their mental health, educational attainment, and holistic development."
Delivering the keynote address at the Worldbeing event, Shri Sajjan R | Director—SCERT, Govt of Bihar, said, “Promoting the wellbeing of students is crucial to their mental health, educational attainment, and holistic development. This is also the focus of the NEP 2020. The role of schools and teachers in ensuring this cannot be emphasized enough. Resilience and well-being are being included in all our teacher trainings, and the first orientation of 40,000 teachers has recently been completed. We hope to reach every middle school in Bihar so that students can learn about their strengths, become resilient and stay mentally healthy in difficult times. The Department is committed to integrating well-being into the state training curricula and textbooks and orienting teachers in early identification and psychosocial support. We are happy to work with WorldBeing to ensure that this becomes a reality.”
“A crucial aspect of school-based mental health and well-being programs is sensitization and training of teachers. I am glad to learn that WorldBeing’s interventions focus on the role of teachers in promoting mental well-being of children and adolescents”, said Ms. Urvashi Prasad | Director in the Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office, NITI Aayog.
“Since 2013, we have reached thousands of students and teachers across Bihar and documented extensive evidence that these programs transform the emotional resilience, mental and physical wellbeing, and education outcomes of adolescents. We are very grateful to have received support from the Government of Bihar at every step of the way,” said Steve Leventhal | Chief Executive Officer, WorldBeing.
“I am certain that this partnership is the first step to ensuring that every student and teacher in Bihar obtains the skills and knowledge to thrive in and out of the classroom, and change their lives. We are thrilled to highlight the success of our long-standing partnership with the Bihar Education Department, and look forward to building collaborations with others to expand this work to other states in India,” adds Nandita Bhatla | Country Director, WorldBeing India Foundation.
In a recent development, adolescents in all Government Middle Schools and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas | KGBVs in Bihar will receive a well-being program through a three-year collaboration between WorldBeing and the Education Department, Government of Bihar. The partnership will expand WorldBeing’s Youth First and Girls First resilience programs across the state in order to enhance the holistic well-being and development of adolescents as per the New Education Policy | NEP, 2020. Recently on December 21st, a one-day conference was organized in Patna to highlight achievements from these programs and lay out a road map for the integration of adolescent wellbeing training into the school system.
Under the partnership, WorldBeing and the Education Department will work to institutionalize well-being training within the government structure.
The WorldBeing curriculum will also be adapted and integrated into all school textbooks by the academic year 2024. WorldBeing will provide curriculum, training, technical advice, and monitoring support to the Education Department through 2025 to help ensure the adoption and sustainability of the programs across all 38 districts of the state. At scale, the programs are expected to reach approximately 35,000 government schools and 534 KGBVs, providing well-being skills to over 3.5 million Standard VI-VIII students annually.
The Youth First and Girls First programs integrate a resilience and adolescent health curriculum delivered through an innovative teacher-facilitated peer group model. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and thrive.
The programs integrate evidence-based practices from the fields of emotional resilience, positive psychology, social-emotional learning, and conflict resolution with adolescent health training to improve mental and physical well-being, school engagement, self-advocacy, social skills, and relationships among youth. First launched in India in 2009, these have been implemented in select districts in Bihar since 2013.
In Kenya, WorldBeing and its local partner have entered into a nationwide agreement with the Ministry of Education nationwide to roll out WorldBeing’s Youth First program in all middle schools across the country; 2 million children will receive the program annually.
In Rwanda, WorldBeing’s Youth First program will roll-out to 50% of all schools within the next 3 years. In all, over 5 million children per year in over 50,000 schools will benefit from WorldBeing’s well-being and resilience programs across India, Kenya, and Rwanda within the next 3 years.