A new series on mental health, and its larger impact on the social fabric of India, is now airing on Doordarshan. Titled Mann Ki Baat (Mind Matters), the serial is looking at a range of psychological issues—from those related to children, adolescents and women, and also those cutting across a range of general symptoms that are common in society. Says noted psychiatrist Avdesh Sharma who is anchoring the programme, “We think the platform of Doordarshan is great since it is able to reach out to those sections that have the least access to mental health treatment.” Considering Doordarshan’s penetration in rural India, and the inaccessible parts of the country where most channels do not have the outreach, Sharma is quite right. In the past he’s also presented several shows on mental health issues on DD.

At the time of going to press, three episodes focused on the importance of mental health, stress and its manifestations on an individual as well as on society, and the Mind in general have been aired. The forthcoming episodes will deal with psychosocial issues of children and adolescents. Recent figures from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) show that nearly 50 million Indian children below the age of 15 years require mental health care in the country. If one looks at day-to-day stress related behavioral or psychological problems in children, the figures would be much higher. This coupled with the fact that mental health professionals are mainly concentrated in large Indian cities, empowering the parents, teachers and the children themselves becomes a priority.

An increasing number of children today are suffering from stress within the confines of their home that is creating mental as well as physical problems for them. At school, children face too much expectation from their parents as well as their school system that is wrecking havoc on their mental health. There is increased level of stress leading to aggression and disruptive behavior in young children. 

Adolescence is a period of rapid physical and psychological transition which make adolescents particularly vulnerable to emotional conflicts and behavioral disorders. The episodes on adolescents deal with stress that adolescents face within their family environment and offers useful tips to parents to communicate effectively with their children. Adolescents also face a lot of stress from their peers to experiment with alcohol, drugs, sex etc. The series talks about the importance of life skills to empower adolescents to deal with the challenging situations of their day to day life. An entire episode is dedicated to the particularly difficult career choices that are creating a lot of stress in adolescents today. 

Manju Mehta, professor of clinical psychology at AIIMS and a well known face in the media along with Deepak Gupta, prominent child and adolescent psychiatrist will be the experts on the episodes on children’s issues. Noted author and columnist on adolescents’ issues—Sumati Ghosh and Life Skills expert Asheema Singh will be guests on the episodes dealing with psychosocial problems of adolescents. Celebrated career counselor Pervin Malhotra will also appear on the show as an expert in an effort to reach out and make adolescents’ career choices a little simpler.

August 2010

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