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Salaam Baalak Trust - Working Towards Ensuring Mental Health for Street Children and Orphans February 3, 2017

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A large number of children who work, live and survive on the streets grow up in terrible unsanitary and filthy conditions. They are exposed to various types of diseases and infections. To help them out, it is important to conduct regular medical check-ups at the NGO centres where they are provided shelter. At these centres, each child is given an individual health card. The card keeps records of a child’s medical history including diseases, check-ups, vaccinations and treatments. It is necessary to regularly vaccinate the children, get them treated by doctors and subject them to pathological tests if required. Free health camps and check-ups are a good way to increase awareness and give these street children the means for their fundamental health requirements. Taking Care of Mental Health Living and working on the streets can be a harsh and unforgiving experience especially for young children. Quite a large number of them suffer from depression, bouts of anger and fear due to their pathetic way of life. They are often exposed to violence and struggle and live in threatening surroundings that affect their young minds adversely. When NGOs take these street kids under their wing, their lives change completely. They come face to face with new challenges in their new environment, meet people and have to get accustomed to a different lifestyle. Quite often these changes tend to disturb a child’s mind and build a temptation within them to return to their street life they are familiar with. It is the responsibility of the NGO centres to ensure that the transformation is gradual and under proper guidance so as to make the children see the advantages of a secure and caring atmosphere. For this it is important that NGOs and other institutions start a mental health programme for the homeless street children living at their shelters. The mental health camps or programmes for the children should have qualified and capable advisors and doctors who can properly counsel the children and tend to their psychological/emotional needs. A child facing emotional issues is usually referred to a counsellor by volunteers and teachers. These children are encouraged to go through different psychological and clinical tests to figure out the root cause and intensity of their problems. Sometimes a few specialized treatments and therapies are provided to children suffering from depression or effects of trauma experienced at a young age.

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effects of trauma experienced at a young age. Mental health problems can be countered using therapies like play therapy, art-based therapy and group therapy. The troubled children are encouraged to share their innermost issues with their counselors. The counselors are always approachable and take tremendous care to hear out and comprehend their problems. They play multiple roles that of close confidante, with whom the kids can share their intimate thoughts, punching bag, on whom they can release their frustration and even as friends with whom they laugh and share their joys. Similar kinds of mental health programmes have been adopted by many NGOs like Salaam Baalak Trust. Their objective is to rescue and support the street children and neglected orphans. Salaam Baalak Trust started a full fledged Mental Health Programme (MHP) under the supervision of Dr Amit Sen. Tags: education orphans street children

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Salaam baalak trust working towards ensuring mental health for street children and orphans