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Sesame Workshop India’s work with vulnerable children from temporary migrant families and urban slums provides insight into parents’ perceptions of mental well-being

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Sesame Workshop India’s work with vulnerable children from temporary migrant families and urban slums provides insight into parents’ perceptions of mental well-being

Posted on April 26, 2022

Final evaluation results released at MWB Summit to guide future interventions with children

New Delhi: Sesame Workshop India, the non-profit educational organization that caters to the developmental needs of children, today organized a summit on the mental wellbeing of children and families in the capital. Attended by government officials, nonprofits, academics and philanthropists, the summit highlighted the challenges of integrating play-based techniques with mental wellness interventions in communities . In addition, the organization has also released the results of the final evaluation of its Play Learn Connect and Bright Start projects which were themed to meet the socio-emotional needs of children in the urban slums of Delhi – NCR.

Ms. Preeti Sudan, IAS (Retd), Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the keynote speaker at the summit spoke on social-emotional wellbeing and learning as a systemic response for families . “We all evolve through continuous learning. There have been many stigmas associated with mental health and we need to address them with the utmost sensitivity. It was for the first time in the union budget that our finance minister talked about the mental health of citizens – children, parents, the family as a unit as well as teachers as ambassadors of health and well-being through teachers. It is not just children and adolescents whose mental health is of concern, but carers are equally important to look after,” Ms Sudan said.

Aiming to empower parents/guardians in low-resource communities to meaningfully engage in playful learning for the holistic development of their children, SWI designed its intervention base a baseline study of temporary migrant families to determine their level of understanding of play-based education, bias in interpreting emotions, parenting strategies, discipline styles and behavior mechanisms.

The intervention focused on promoting play-based education to help children develop the right set of skills by involving caregivers from 2,600 families. During the implementation, caregivers were contacted via mobile phones, audio episodes, weekly sessions with facilitators where they were supported to help their children manage their emotions, recognize the importance of play to create bonding with children and more. During implementation, it was found that caregivers who were already struggling with the aftermath of the pandemic prioritized basic necessities, such as nutrition, health, safety and good education, rather than than to emotional well-being. However, it was through the sensitivity of content design, facilitation and empathy from partners on the ground that the organization was able to make encouraging improvements in the attitudes of caregivers and families.

  • Compared to baseline, 20.32% of parents now believe that children learn to manage their own feelings better with support from adults
  • Parents demonstrated a 15.44% positive change in the belief that children should be taught to hide their feelings.
  • Although still pronounced, there was a significant improvement in terms of prejudice and gender stereotyping with 26.4% fewer parents believing girls should be taught to suppress their anger and other emotions compared to baseline .
  • The intervention attempts to normalize boys’ crying and support their emotional expression by improving caregivers’ perception of crying when stressed by 18.7%.
  • While toxic stereotypes of masculinity are still prevalent, the intervention saw a significant improvement with 20.8% fewer caregivers believing that boys who express a lot of feelings encounter problems as they grow up.
  • A significant improvement was seen in terms of the father’s involvement in play activities with the children. A 27.2% increase was seen in children reporting that their father was a playmate compared to baseline.

However, a few concerning findings were also uncovered to help guide future interventions with children and families:

  • A 14% reduction in the number of parents believing that boys and girls should play similar games was observed.
  • Little impact was made in terms of parents’ beliefs about nutritional practices such as children eating three meals a day (0.73% improvement), drinking 2-3 liters of water a day (2. 7%) and ghee being healthy in a child’s daily routine (1.65% reduction) with almost identical ratios during the initial and final stages.
  • While parents demonstrated improved attitudes regarding time spent with children and play-based education, parents’ perception of helping children understand their feelings decreased by 14.05%

Commenting on the impact findings, Sonali Khan, Managing Director of Sesame Workshop India, said “Adapting, learning and meeting the mental well-being needs of children and families is at the heart of all Sesame interventions. Our content design, campaign approach and outreach initiatives are guided by extensive research and evaluation that aim to address the whole child’s curriculum with a focus on social-emotional learning. Over the next 3 years, we aim to reach and engage 1 million children through our community outreach and 20 million children each year through our media outreach. We are committed to providing continuous, quality early childhood care and education by integrating lessons learned from our current phase of implementation and closing gaps in caregiver knowledge and practice with even more effective intervention. and scalable.

Shaleen Mitra, Secretary to the Minister of Health and Urban Development Government of the NCT, added that “mental health is largely driven by women. We need to be more inclusive in this space, both in asking for help and in providing advice. Recently, the Delhi government project has taken an innovative step by introducing child psychologists in schools as part of health initiatives. As a systemic response, we need to be sensitive enough to deal with children and families to understand their duties to their mental well-being.

The summit concluded by emphasizing that partners on the ground such as Child Survival India and Mobile Creches who care for children and caregivers in communities also need attention and their voices must be represented with those of children and caregivers. There is an urgent need to invest in the mental well-being of communities, because without it, the overall development of communities will remain a challenge.