The Delhi High Court Monday sought response from the Delhi government on a petition concerning mental health of students in schools and colleges. A bench of Justices D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice on the PIL by Devina Singh, a 17 year old student, for implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 in educational institutions.
The court also sought response from the Institute Of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences, New Delhi.
Relying on the National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, Singh, who was represented by senior advocate Sonia Mathur, has contended that children and adolescents are vulnerable to mental disorders and the healthcare system does not prioritise mental health.
Singh has claimed that stress, fear, depression, insomnia, disconnectedness and lack of self-confidence, are the issues widely prevalent among students but left unattended.
“There is no comprehensive assessment, evaluation, and diagnostics/ protocols/ standard operating procedures (SOP) regarding mental health of students in contrast with physical health where assessment and follow up is done at periodic intervals,” the petition reads.
It is highlighted that there is a direct correlation between academic stress and performance and sound mental health and if left untreated, mental disorders in children can lead to more complex disorders, school dropout, addiction, and self-harm.
The plea also said that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge psychological impact on the students, resulting in “acute and chronic stress because of parental anxiety, disruption of daily routines, increased family violence, and home confinement with little or no access to peers, teachers, or physical activity”.
The petition, filed through advocate Rahul Kumar, has sought mandatory presence of clinical psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers and mental health professionals in each school and college of the district for the assessment of mental health of students.
A direction is also sought to authorities to implement the National Mental Health programme for the benefit of students and to conduct a mental health survey on regular basis/periodic intervals.
The petition will be heard next on September 16.