Best Practices

Best Practices-1

Programme on Screening and Promotion of Mental Health for Students

The Department of Sociology in collaboration with Suicide Prevention Action Network
(SPAN) Project, National Mental Health Programme, Department of Health & Family Welfare,
Govt. of Sikkim organises a monthly screening programme for mental health among students.

The objective of the programme is to assess the emotional well being of students via a series of
questions, under the guidance of trained counselors from the Primary Health Centers (PHCs).
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognizes the relevance of
mental illnesses in decreasing the total disease burden. In the Indian context, mental illness has
been shrouded in stigma, ignorance, and superstition for a long time. The Indian Government
adopted its first National Mental Health Policy in 2014 and a revised Mental Healthcare Act in
2017 based on the principles of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) international
classifications of diseases and disorders which classifies Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM) as an area of inquiry. With this initiative the Ministry of Health aims
to provide mental health services across the country, to reduce the stigma associated with
mental illness, promote mental health awareness, and create a community where mental health
is valued.
In a Lancet study, it is documented that in 2017, mental diseases accounted for 4.7% (3.7%-
5.6%) of total Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in India, compared to 2.5% (2.0%-
3.1%) in 1990. Mental illnesses were the major cause of Years of healthy life Lost due to
Disabilities (YLDs) in India in 2017, accounting for 14.5% of all YLDs. Depressive disorders
(33.8%, 29.5-38.5) and anxiety disorders (19.0%, 15.9-22.4) contributed the most DALYs in
India in 2017.1
Keeping this in mind, the screening is focused on the prevention, screening, assessment, and
treatment of mental disorders and behavioral conditions in order to catch mental health
conditions early.
The Practice
Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, eating disorders are some of the common mental health
conditions that plague young college students today. The college understands that
academic and other stressors may affect the mental well-being of college students. In this
regard, mental health awareness among students has an important role to play in terms of
addressing the relationship between mental health, substance abuse, and other negative coping

behaviors, as well as the negative impact of stigma and cultural attitudes toward mental
The Department of Sociology under the direction of Dr. Nancy C. Lhasungpa, Assistant
Professor, organised a training programme for 17 students who are presently pursuing
Sociology Honours. The training programme was held on 20th April 2023 in the College
Seminar Hall with the aim to engage college students in the screening process to help identify
mental health issues among their peers in order to provide timely counselling and reference in
partnership with District Hospitals, Upper Primary Health Centres (UPHCs) and PHCs. These
students, in their second year, were trained by two counsellors, Ms. Tshering and Ms. Chunku,
from Gangtok Upper Primary Health Centres (UPHCs).
The first screening programme was held in May 2023. Since then, a monthly screening
programme has been held in the college library every month, except during end term
examinations and semester breaks, wherein undergraduate students across disciplines have
been screened for mental health conditions.

Evidence of Success
Since the start of the screening programme, many students have been identified with mental
health problems. Such students have been referred to the UPHCs, PHCs and District hospitals
for necessary diagnosis and treatment. The names of these students have been kept anonymous
to encourage higher engagement.
Problems Encountered
Some of the problems encountered during this process include poor attitude towards mental
health challenges, lack of funds, lack of an on-campus clinical psychologist or other certified
professionals, and lack of awareness of importance of such screening programmes.
Optional Info
The Department of Sociology hopes to conduct similar screening programmes for postgraduate
students as well as the teaching and non-teaching college staff. The long-term goal is to
normalise conversations around mental health and make necessary diagnosis and treatment
accessible to all.

Best Practices-2
Fitness Club in NBBGC, Tadong

Nar Bahadur Bhandari Government College, Tadong has set up the fitness club to motivate
students and staff for physical fitness. The club operates with the help of Yoga and Gymnasium
centers which is set up in the college campus.
o have fit body for fit mind of students and teachers, physical fitness has become more
important in the post-covid period.
The Context
After the opening of college in the post-covid period, it was felt that there should be an
initiative from the college to create a fitness center for its staff and students.
The Practice
Fitness through yoga and gymnasium center in the college could provide motivation and
training for the students. Students visit the centers regularly after taking membership.
However, the intake capacity of these centers is small as compared to the total student
Evidence of Success
Regular participation of staff and students in these centers is a source of motivation for
fitness. The students also participate in various competitive events at the state and
national level and bring awards and recognition to the college.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required
There is a limited intake capacity of these centers, so cannot accommodate maximum
members. This whole adds costs in the form of maintenance of equipment’s and salary to
the trainers.

Notes (Optional)
However, due to locational disadvantage, students commuting to the college cannot take
advantage of this facility. But for the students who reside in the campus and its surrounding,
it is a boon.