School mental health and counselling is a must for every educational institution in Nepal.
--BY NEWBIZ TEAM
Providing awareness and mental health support to the future young leaders of Nepal.
School counsellors are a must for schools today. They play many roles including social and emotional educator, academic advisor, wellness coach, and many more. The number of schools having school counsellors in Nepal is increasing in recent times.
Ashish Shrestha, the Executive Director of Sambhavya Foundation, is concerned about the mental health of students. Understanding the need for social counselling, Sambhavya Foundation has worked successfully with 21 schools in Kathmandu Valley as well as in Sindhupalchowk, Rupandehi and Baglung districts.
School counselling primarily focuses on getting involved with psycho-education and mental health literacy. It is a vast programme which includes group counselling, training programmes, individual counselling, parents orientation and more. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of students facing behavioural changes. These changes directly affect how students behave in classrooms and also with their peers.
Shrestha emphasises the need to focus more on mental health literacy for students from a young age. This is incorporated by group discussions, workshops, assignments, tests and many fun activities as well. Individuals with a strong background in psychology are trained to become school counsellors and are appointed to different schools. They are responsible for creating an environment solely for the students where they can easily express their thoughts and emotional problems. By doing so, students can be mentally healthy and any severe problems can be tackled at a young age.
Shift in Perspective
A positive shift in perspective towards mental health problems can be seen in Nepal. The growing awareness has also led to an increase in the number of students interested in enrolling in various psychology programmes. “During my Bachelor’s days there were very few enrollments for psychology programmes. Now, I have witnessed a change and have seen 100% enrollment in psychology programmes which is overwhelming.” says Shrestha.
Private practitioners have also been spreading mental health awareness and partnered with different institutions for the betterment of the people. Moreover, Shrestha also says that parents have also taken steps and seek out professional help rather than ignoring their child’s problems. The new generation parents are doing research, gathering information and are appreciating the work of school counsellors.
As childhood and adolescence is a crucial age for a child’s development, Shrestha shares that this is the time when an individual can be moulded to become a better person.
A child is affected by many factors. These factors may be physical abuse, bullying in classrooms, parents’ divorce, domestic abuse and many more. All of these are confined within a child. School counsellor helps them to open up and express those feelings with them. During this interaction, the solution to their problems are reflected by themselves and the root cause of the behaviour can be identified.
Shrestha further added that a child’s feelings, thoughts, behaviour are all interlinked to their parents, peers, neighbours, teaching faculties and everyone related to them. Therefore, while counselling, all of these individuals are also taken in consideration and a theory related to the ecosystem is followed.
In 1996, the government brought a policy focused on components which directed on providing citizens with at least minimum mental health services. However, the policy is yet to come into full-fledged implementation.
Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had also taken an initiative to provide one counsellor in every school in Nepal.
The government allocates 1% of the annual budget for mental health awareness and 2% for training purposes. However, this allocation is not sufficient for the vast population of Nepal. In rural areas, people still cannot reach out to professionals for their mental health problems. This leaves them with no option but to look for superstitious measures and turn to other religious beliefs.
On the bright side, different NGOs have created a strong base and have taken a step to spread awareness. Sambhavya Foundation also has a vision that by 2023 at least 300 community schools should have a proper counselling room and that there are one male and one female counsellors in every school.