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The Umang Adolescent Helpline Launch in Madhya Pradesh

14 January 2020
Umang Adolescent Helpline Launch

14425 – that’s the helpline number that will now have a friendly voice on the other side, to respond to a lot of questions young people in Madhya Pradesh had, that went unanswered earlier.

 

Launched on January 13, 2020 at the Academy of Administration in Bhopal, the Umang Adolescent Helpline will now have qualified and trained counselors who will provide anonymous tele-counseling services to adolescents who dial 14425. Further, block level counseling centres will help with walk-in clients and assist with crisis management whenever referred through the helpline. This is the first time counselors are being provided at the block level in India.  

 

‘This is a landmark initiative that will make Madhya Pradesh the pioneering state in providing much-needed support and counselling services to the adolescents. It will not only assist the teachers in providing the necessary support to the students but also help adolescents become better equipped and well-adjusted members of society,’ said Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary, Education Minister, Department of School Education.

 

UNFPA India Representative, Ms Argentina Matavel Piccin added, ‘Over the last few years, Madhya Pradesh has been the leader in showing the path to other states in the implementation of adolescent empowerment programme using innovative and scalable approaches. Adolescent Helpline services will help to address adolescent issues and concerns. UNFPA is committed to work with the government in this initiative and look forward with the strong partnership for the empowerment of adolescents.’

 

UNFPA has been working with the Department of School Education in Madhya Pradesh since 2017 to integrate Life Skills Education in 9228 government schools for students from Class 9 to 12, to empower adolescents to assert their rights when it comes to important decisions about their lives.

 

This programme, called Umang led to students asking their teachers a lot of questions – some of which the teachers couldn’t often answer.

 

‘Students started seeking support from teachers on various issues involving violence and abuse, dealing with mental health problems like stress, exam anxiety, growing up issues etc. and the effective support can only be provided by trained counsellors,’ said Ms. Jaishri Kiyawat, Commissioner, Directorate of Public Instruction.

 

With no counselling centres in rural areas, apart from the Adolescent Friendly Health Centres – which only dealt with health issues – this was a gap that needed to be filled. The Umang Adolescent Helpline, which has been set up by the Department of School Education with technical assistance from UNFPA and in partnership with REC Foundation, will now become a part of the existing Life Skills education Programme.

 

‘In the present era the adolescents are attempting suicides due to depression and academic stress.  The state is initiating the Helpline to provide necessary counselling services to these adolescents, ’ said Mrs. Rashmi Arun Shami, Principal Secretary.  

 

The counsellors who have been appointed to answer the calls made on the helpline were put through a training program to equip them to answer questions on various issues such as mental health, addiction, nutrition and academic and career advice, among others. The identities of the callers will remain anonymous, and there is no time restriction on how long a young person can speak to someone on the other side.