Sesame Workshop India’s work with vulnerable children of temporary migrant families & urban slums gives insight into parents’ perception of mental well-being

Findings of endline evaluation released at MWB Summit to guide future interventions with children

New Delhi, Sesame Workshop India (Sesame), the educational non-profit working to address the developmental needs of children, hosted a summit on Mental well-being of children and families in the capital city today.

Attended by government officials, non-profits, academicians, philanthropists, the summit spotlighted the challenges of integrating play-based techniques with mental well-being interventions in communities. Additionally, the organization also released findings from the endline evaluation of its Play Learn Connect & Bright Start projects that were themed on addressing socio-emotional needs of children in urban slums of Delhi – NCR

Ms. Preeti Sudan, IAS (Retd), Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the keynote speaker at the summit talked about socio-emotional wellbeing and learning as a systemic response for families. “We all evolve by continuous learning. There have been many stigmas associated with mental health and we need to address this with utmost sensitivity. It was for the first time in the union budget that our finance minister talked about the mental health of the citizens – children, parents, family as a unit along with teachers as health and wellness ambassadors via teachers. It’s not only the kids and adolescents whose mental health is concerning, but the caregivers for the same are equally important to be addressed” said Ms. Sudan

Aimed at empowering parents/caregivers from low-resourced communities to meaningfully engage in playful learning for holistic development of their children, SWI designed its intervention basis a baseline study of temporary migrant families to ascertain their level of understanding about play-based education, gender-bias in interpreting emotions, parenting strategies, discipline styles & behavior mechanisms.

The intervention focused on promoting play-based education to help children develop the right set of skills by engaging caregivers of 2600 families. Over the course of implementation, caregivers were reached via mobile phones, audio episodes, weekly sessions with facilitators where they were supported to help their children manage emotions, recognize the importance of play to build bonding with children and more.

Over the course of implementation, it was found that caregivers who were already grappling with the after-effects of the pandemic, prioritized basic necessities, such as nutrition, health, safety, and good education over emotional well-being. However, it is because of the sensitivity of content design, facilitation and empathetic ground partners that the organization has been able to bring forward encouraging improvements in the attitudes of caregivers and families.

  • In comparison with the baseline, 20.32% parents now feel that children learn how to manage their own feelings better with support of adults
  • Parents have demonstrated a positive shift of 15.44% with regards to the belief that children should learn to hide their feelings.
  • While still pronounced, there has been a significant improvement in terms of gender bias and stereotyping with 26.4% fewer parents feeling that girls should learn to suppress their anger and other emotions as compared to the baseline.
  • The intervention tries to normalize crying for boys & support their emotional expression by improving the perception of caregivers by 18.7% with regards to them crying when stressed.
  • While toxic stereotypes of masculinity are still prevalent, the intervention witnessed a significant improvement with 20.8% fewer caregivers believing that boys who express a lot of feelings face problems when they grow up.
  • A significant improvement was found in terms of father’s involvement in play activities with children. An increase of 27.2% was observed in children reporting their father as a play partner as compared to the baseline.

However, there are a few concerning findings as well that were uncovered with the intention of guiding future interventions with children and families:

  • A reduction of 14% in parents believing that boys and girls should play similar games was observed.
  • Not much impact was made in terms of parent’s beliefs on nutritional practices such as children eating three meals a day(0.73% improvement), drinking 2-3 litres of water per day (2.7% improvement) and ghee being healthy in a child’s daily routine (1.65% reduction) with almost identical reporting during both baseline and endline phases.
  • While parents have demonstrated improved attitudes with regards to spending time with children and play-based education, parents’ perception of helping children understand their feelings has declined by 14.05%

Commenting on the impact findings, Sonali Khan, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop India said “Adapting, learning and responding to the mental well-being needs of children and families is at the heart of all Sesame interventions. Our content design, campaign approach, outreach initiatives are guided by thorough research and evaluation that aim to address the whole child curriculum with a key focus on socio-emotional learning.

Over the next 3 years, we aim to reach and engage 1 million children through our community outreach and 20 Mn children year-on-year through our media outreach. We are committed to provide continuous and quality early childhood care and education by embedding learnings from our current phase of implementation and bridging the gap in knowledge and practice of the caregivers with an even more effective and scalable intervention.”

Shaleen Mitra,Secretary to the Health Minister and Urban Development Government of NCT,added that “Mental health is largely led by women. We need to be more gender inclusive in this space, both for asking help and providing counseling. Recently, Delhi government’s project has taken an innovative measure where they introduced child psychologists in schools as part of the health initiatives. As a systemic response, we need to be sensitive enough to deal with children and families to understand their tasks on their mental well being.”

The summit concluded by highlighting the fact that on-ground partners such as Child Survival India and Mobile Creches who are dealing with children and caregivers in the communities equally need attention and their voices need to be represented along with that of the children and caregivers. There is an urgent need for investment in the mental wellbeing of communities as without that the overall development of communities will remain challenged.
About Sesame Workshop – India
Sesame Workshop – India is the Indian arm of Sesame Workshop, the internationally renowned non-profit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. We reach kids in their earliest years to provide them access to life-changing early education, critical health lessons, and helpful tools for tough situations via a combination of television, radio, digital media, mobile technologies, and community outreach across 11 states in India. Since 2006,
Sesame Workshop – India has reached children through mass media including Galli Galli Sim Sim, the local version of Sesame Street, and now reaches children with engaging and educational content featuring the beloved Muppets of Sesame Street on its YouTube channels in two languages – Hindi and Telugu.. For more information, log on to sesame workshop
This article was shared with Prittle Prattle News as a Press Release.
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