The Salam Bombay Foundation has released the results of a joint study with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
The Covid 19 epidemic has had a significant impact on the health of adolescents, especially the disadvantaged, highlighting the need for positive intervention to help them cope with higher vulnerabilities.
The Mumbai-based NGO Salam Bombay Foundation conducted a cross-departmental case-control assessment study in collaboration with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health to examine the impact of multi-level interventions for disadvantaged adolescents in the lockdown between April and June 2020. The time after the epidemic hit the country. The interventions – held in the early days of the epidemic across various communities in Mumbai – adopted a three-pronged approach to Happy Mind Call, Skill Building Activities and Food Relief.
The study aimed to assess and evaluate the impact of these interventions on the social and mental well-being of specially disadvantaged adolescents who are part of the Salam Bombay Foundation program.
The study, which covered 630 students, found that more than 80 percent of students responded positively when involved with a facilitator. About 72 percent of students enjoyed the Happy Mind Call while adding a sense of strong support to difficult situations like food relief epidemics. Further, 85 percent expressed an instant desire, indicating that they want someone to talk to them, engage with them, play with them. The study concludes that such calls are important for young people because they have gained strong participation from them and encouraged them to better express themselves which is important in such difficult situations.
Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Mansi Baudekar, Vice President – Research & M&E, Salam Bombay Foundation, said: Beneficiaries of the method can bring about positive change. The impact of the overall intervention lasted about six months, testifying to its importance and success. We need more of this kind of holistic activity for teenagers because it makes them feel valued when we approach them as equals, respect their opinions and get their feedback. ”
Echoing his thoughts, Dr. K. ‘Bish’ Bishwanath, PhD, Professor of Health Communication, Harvard, TH Chan School of Public Health, Director, Harvard Chan India Research Center, said, The impact on children has been exacerbated by the disruption of schooling, the involvement of classmates and friends, and the loss of a normal childhood because they knew it before the epidemic.
In this context, the Salam Bombay Foundation’s program, which involves students called ‘Happy Mind Calls’, is innovative and fascinating. This brief intervention of a phone call seems to have had a strong and demonstrable positive effect on the mental well-being of children, complementing other activities such as skill building, playing games or providing food relief when needed. Evaluation of the program in collaboration with our team at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health clearly shows that SBF’s calls have made students happy and connected. They must have communicated with the kids that they were important. And, everyone cares for them.
It is an innovative method that can be done remotely, easily measurable and effective. This method provides an enlightened way to work with children, not only during epidemics, but also at other times. I congratulate SBF for creating and implementing an innovative program that is not only influential but also serves as a model for others. “