NCCI – IDEA Seminar on World Mental Health Day 2018

National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI – IDEA)

‘Acceptance is a Gospel Demand and Inclusion is a Gospel Affirmation’ says Mrs. Rachna Singh, Executive Committee member of NCCI, in a commemoration seminar on World Mental Health DayThe United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation called the global communities to commemorate and observe the World Mental Health Day on the 10th October every year with the overall objective of raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health care. This commemoration provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

The National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment and the Church of Scotland (World Mission Council), Student Christian Movement of India (Mid-India Region), Asia CMS, Church of North India – All Saints Cathedral Youth Fellowship and Christian Service Agency organized a Commemoration seminar on Mental Well-being of students in Nagpur at All Saints Cathedral’s  Chatterton Hall on October 10, 2018.

There were 60 participants from 30 different schools, colleges, institutions, organisations and Churches.

This seminar was inaugurated by Mrs. Rachna Singh, the Executive and Finance Committee Member of the National Council of Churches in India. She is also Principal of St. Ursula Girls High School and Junior College, and President of the Young Women Christian  Association, Nagpur. Mrs. Rachna Singh challenged and inspired participants to action as she said: Acceptance is a Gospel Demand and Inclusion is a Gospel Affirmation. We, as teachers should have more patience in working with Children who are in need of healthy mental status and environment. There are areas where Children find themselves isolated. In such contexts we need to play the role of a catalyst by way of making the student communities to be inclusive student communities by creating awareness among the students. Also, she invited all school and institutional campuses to become inclusive communities ‘OF’ all and ‘FOR’ all students.

This session opened with a word of prayer by Rev. John George, Presbyter of the CNI – All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur. He moderated the seminar. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary of NCCI – Unity and Mission, and Director of the NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI – IDEA)  introduced the theme and the context. Ms. Pranita P. Sandela of the CNI – All Saints Cathedral and Mr. Jeswin Rajan, Programme Secretary, Student Christian Movement of India Mid-India Region, jointly welcomed the gathering and honored the speakers and guests of honors.

The Seminar had four speakers to speak on four perspectives of the theme: Academic, Clinical, Media and Medical perspectives.

Prof. Dr. Dipti Christian, Principal of Hislop College, Nagpur, spoke from the academic perspectives.  Dr. Christian invited the attention of the participants by sharing her life and academic interventions of creating mental well-being environment in the institutions she is associated with. She presented tips to identify the students who are under a great stress due to their autism, slow learning, hyper-activity, and colour / vision deficiency, other issues related to vision and the such. She emphasized the need to create space for children to express themselves as they are. She said “We teachers and community workers need to appreciate students who express themselves rather discourage them”. She also invited the teachers to not be judgmental, but rather accept the students as they are, and encourage the other students also to understand each other though encouragement, support and accompaniment. She also proposed a paradigm shift in the present educational system and curriculum  in the direction of giving importance to the mental well-being of students rather than importing data alone.

Prof. Dr. Dharmesh Dhawankar, Head of the Department of Mass Communication at RMTN University, Nagpur, facilitated the conversation in an interactive way from the media perspective. He suggested identifying the language that mostly prevails in the society to understand the mental-status of the society. Further, he explained how media influence the very life of society by using the language that makes people mentally sick –  like the language of hate, enmity, suspicion, anger, stigmatization, discrimination and such. Further he suggested handling media and their languages in a mature way for the healthy societal expressions, either ignoring them  or translating them for adverse effects of the intention of the language by practicing harmony. Dr. Dhawankar also invited the seniors and to undergo transformation to fit into the contexts of the millennium community (this generation) by adapting their languages for communication by which we would be able to reduce the stress of the previous generation and the present generation too.

Dr. Pawan Aditya, a psychiatrist from Astha Hospital, Nagpur, presented  a session from the clinical perspective. He emphasized on a context where there is a need for change in the efficacy of normalcy. If a generation does not cope with this change, they are pushed to stress and depression.  In His session, he went on to elucidate the neglected issues in mental health area and the content disorders of the young people especially students that lead to social disorder. He informed the participants about the internet addiction and its effects, and suggested tips on dealing with such disorders.

Mrs. Shimmy Mathew, Regional Secretary of Board of Nursing Education  for  Central and North India, Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI), in the session on medical and community  perspectives, spoke of handling the issues related to mental health. She presented detailed information about metal health illness especially among adolescent children. She emphasized essentially identifying the psycho-social and psycho-sexual changes in adolescence, and the ways to care for the young people in their adolescence. She also referred to some of the common psychological issues, and suggested handling them at personal, institutional, community and medical levels.

There were a few questions asked of the speakers such as about how to handle stress and depression, how to attend to Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, when to refer to medical and clinical interventions, how to encourage the student to opt for community conversation rather  than conversing in digitized chat-rooms and the such.

This seminar created an awareness among the teachers about mental health. Indeed, these sessions helped the participants to realize the need for a mentally healthy society and our roles as teachers,  community workers and leaders.

Mrs. Lalremsiami of NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment proposed the vote of thanks. Miss. Jenifa Rani,  Intern in NCCI served as volunteer. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar concluded the seminar with a word of prayer.

Reported by:
National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI – IDEA)


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