ENGAGE is an online gatekeeper training program which will train secondary and higher secondary school teachers to identify, support and refer at-risk adolescents for suicide prevention support in Chhattisgarh, India.
India accounts for a third of suicides globally. India has the highest number of adolescents in the world (approximately 253 million) and suicide is the leading cause of death among older adolescents. The State of Chhattisgarh, with 30.62% indigenous tribal population, has the 2nd highest suicide rate in India with a 0.2% probability of meeting SDG 3.4 target of a one-third reduction in suicides by 2030. 76% of Chhattisgarh’s adolescents (15-19 years) live in rural areas with very poor access to psychosocial services.
However, there are no suicide prevention programs in Chhattisgarh. Poor access to psychosocial services coupled with limited resources and the conflict-prone context of Chhattisgarh, requires a low-cost and resource-effective suicide prevention strategy.
While gatekeeper training courses are routinely available in high-income countries, there are only few in India. Existing evidence supports the effectiveness of such courses in improving knowledge, attitude & self-efficacy outcomes. Yet, there is little evidence for sustainable long-term behavioral changes in teachers who complete such courses.
How are we addressing the issue?
ENGAGE is an adolescent suicide prevention programme in Chhattisgarh, India, which is co-designing, implementing & evaluating an e-learning gatekeeper training course to train public school teachers in secondary & higher secondary schools across three rural districts of Chhattisgarh.
The self-paced e-learning course comprising of nine modules will be delivered to school teachers in Hindi on their mobile phones and will train them as gatekeepers to identify, support and refer adolescents at risk of suicide for further support from the District Mental Health Programme.
The project has adopted a human-centred and participatory approach by consulting teachers, youth with lived experiences, local experts and civil society organizations for developing the e-learning course.
Further, to identify the best strategy to ensure behavioural change outcomes among teachers, each of the three districts will be given one distinct approach (variant) of the online gatekeeper training program.
In the 1st district, teachers will receive only the online training course.
In the 2nd district, teachers will receive (a) the online training course and (b) an online refresher training at 3 months follow-up.
In the 3rd district, teachers will receive (a) the online training course (b) online refresher training at 3 months follow- up and (c) online mentoring and supervision from the project team.
Th project will also collect data on the number of teachers practicing as gatekeepers and number of adolescents identified & referred in each of the districts to evaluate the outcomes of the program.
ENGAGE is being implemented in collaboration with the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Chhattisgarh & Quicksand Design Studio and is funded by Grand Challenges Canada.
What is the potential impact?
Through ENGAGE, we expect that teachers completing the online gatekeeper training program will improve their knowledge, attitudes, skills and confidence to identify, support and refer at-risk adolescents for suicide prevention support.
Trained teachers practicing as gatekeepers will identify, support and refer at-risk adolescents leading to reduced adolescents suicides and attempted suicides.
We will also find out which is the most effective strategy to ensure behavioural change among teachers as gatekeepers.
Where have we reached?
The project is currently at the end of the first year and is completing production of the e-learning course modules.
Arjun Kapoor, Centre Mental Health Law & Policy, ILS, Pune
Soumitra Pathare, Centre Mental Health Law & Policy, ILS, Pune
Lakshmi Vijayakumar, SNEHA Suicide Prevention Centre, Chennai