India: At NCERT Conference on Mental Health, UNODC pushes for education on integrity and SDGs to strengthen socio-emotional resilience among young people

New Delhi, India/12 October 2022: Schools are one of the key spaces for the protection and promotion of mental health among children and adolescents. However, these settings are also where children may experience bullying, racism, discrimination, peer pressure and stress related to academic aspects.  WHO estimates suggest that globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder. Depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders are also among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.

Latest data from the National Survey on Mental Health and Well-being of School Students—conducted in 2022 by the Manodarpan cell of the National Council on Educational Research and Training (NCERT), India’s apex body on education and curriculum-related matters--suggests that nearly 81 percent students attribute studies, exams and results as major causes of anxiety.

India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 envisions socio-emotional aspects of development as an integral part of the education system in India. This stands to impact the mental health and well-being of young people as well, providing the foundation for holistic development.

In this context, UNODC delivered a technical session on ways to meaningfully engage young people through education and strengthening their socio-emotional resilience at a two-day NCERT National Conference on Mental Health and Well-being in Schools and Role of School Administrators. The NCERT Conference engaged and sensitised over 500 school administrators, leaders and other stakeholders on the need to advance mental health care among young people with exchange of good practices and expertise.

Discussions focused on strengthening institutional collaborations to advance mental health in schools, the role of administrators, policymakers and educators, prevention of mental health issues among students, knowledge sharing and exchange of innovative interventions.

At the Conference, UNODC showcased the Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education (GRACE) Initiative, free-to-use educational resources and tools on crime prevention, integrity and ethics, and good practices including the Lockdown Learners series from South Asia.

“Our youth programs involve students, educators and families on enhancing socio-emotional resilience, peace and integrity. The key is to provide a safe space for an open conversation, active listening and engagement, identifying signs, removing the stigma around mental health, and helping the other receive support, counselling and other services as required,” said Mr. Samarth Pathak, Communications Officer, UNODC Regional Office for South Asia.

Participating educational leaders highlighted the mental health issues among educators and students—including anxieties, bullying and stress—and for collaborative capacity building interventions from UNODC in this direction, as well as dissemination of educational resources and expertise.

With education on integrity and ethics, peace, crime prevention and SDGs, students can be effectively guided towards a state of well-being in which they realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a positive contribution to their communities.

This activity contributes to SDG 4, SDG 5 and 16: