Early intervention and detection programme rolled out for students’ mental health and well-being

In a move towards prioritising student health and wellbeing, Bhutan’s educational institutions are set to adopt and implement the Health and Wellbeing Programme across the country. The initiative, led by The PEMA Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and the Ministry of Health, aims to address physical and mental health concerns among students, with a particular focus on early intervention and prevention.

Under the Health and Wellbeing Programme, students will undergo regular screenings encompassing comprehensive check-ups and identification of common mental health concerns.

According to the PEMA Secretariat, the programme will ensure timely intervention by detecting vulnerability and risk of developing mental health issues, including substance use.

“This Health and Wellbeing Programme is designed to identify students who may be experiencing mental distress and also students who may have initiated substance abuse in their lives and have approached us to overcome their substance abuse disorders. So, we identify them early and provide timely intervention, so that they do not progress to other mental disorders and substance abuse disorders in the future,” said Dorji Tshering, chief programme officer of The PEMA Secretariat.

The pilot phase of the programme is already underway, with approximately 1,400 class XI students from schools in Thimphu screened last week.

As part of the pilot phase, the students were asked to fill in online forms. Those at risk of mental health and substance use disorders were given necessary interventions based on the degree of vulnerability to the disorders.

“The programme involves self-administration of standardised tools and surveys to collect data on students’ demographic information on mental health symptoms and substance use patterns, and other relevant factors. So, through this initiative, we hope to build resilient and productive students who are academically sound,” added Dorji Tshering .

The Health and Wellbeing Programme will be gradually rolled out to all schools across the country in a phased manner. The PEMA Secretariat said that the next phase will be initiated with class XII students nationwide in July.

Karma Samten Wangda

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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