India has a rapidly growing urban population. By 2020, India is set to be the youngest country in the world with an average age of 29 years, very likely to be a city-dweller (findings from ‘State of Urban Youth India 2012: Employment, Livelihood, Skills’, pub. IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collab. with UN-HABITAT). The National Youth Policy, 2014 defines youth as between 15-29 years. Within these statistics resides disturbing data about youth and adolescent mental health.
- In India, 1 in 4 youth between 13-15 years are depressed. (‘Mental Health Status of Adolescents in South-East Asia: Evidence for Action’, WHO Report, April 2017)
- Every hour, one student commits suicide in India. (Sh. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, MoS, MHA responding to Sh. Kapil Patil, Lok Sabha, 2 January 2018 citing data from citing 2015 data from National crime Records Bureau)
- In India, 25 per cent of teens are hopeless. (‘Mental Health Status of Adolescents in South-East Asia: Evidence for Action’, WHO Report, April 2017)
Based on the context outlined above and LiveJam’s experiences in engaging with urban teens across India, a few responses to the needs of urban teens are identified as below:
- Taking the message of hope & purpose to the urban youth in their own environments
- Using creative mediums of expression to communicate hope
- Normalizing the conversation around depression, hopelessness and suicide amongst teens
- Providing accessible options to talk it out
- Empowering hope agents to share stories of hope & overcoming depression, hopelessness and suicide
Mental Health needs in India are very high. One in four children in the age group of 13-15 years in India suffer from depression, which affects 86 million people in South-East Asia region, according to WHO. We cannot neglect the fact that youth today struggle with depresision due to peer pressure, high competitive levels in academics, parental pressure, bullying, confused identity and various forms of abuse.
Yes, this project will cause societal change and help shape the thought process of many students in varied ways. Based on stories of impact LiveJam teams have heard, several senior students have expressed how the initiatives have helped them to evolve towards an accurate concept of themselves through a message of hope.