SNEHA'S EHSAS PROGRAM FOR ADOLESCENT HEALTH

Partners

Society for Nutrition, Education, Health Action (SNEHA)

SNEHA’s adolescent health program, EHSAS, recognizes that adolescence is a difficult time for individuals as they try to understand their identity, sexuality and at the same time make sense of the environment around them. Mortality and morbidity due to mental disorders in adolescents increased and topped in recent years. In India suicide among adolescents is higher than any other age groups i.e., 40% of suicide deaths in men and 56% of suicide deaths in women occurred in 15–29 years of age. The prevalence rate of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders within communities is 6.5% and 23.3% in schools—however, the reporting systems of psychiatric disorders in children are found to be inadequate (Sivagurunathan, Umadevi et al. 2015). 

SNEHA believes that gender-based power inequality lies at the root of concerns related to nutrition, sexual and reproductive health or mental health conditions. Research indicates that none of India’s national programmes/schemes—designed to address the health of young people—address the structural and power inequities that women and girls face, or the development of skills to challenge socially accepted roles and expectations around sexuality, fertility, and work (Nanda, Das, Singh, &Negi, 2013 in Daruwalla, Mishra et al 2017).

EHSAS addresses the health and wellbeing of adolescents and youth (10-21 years), enabling them to become healthy, gender sensitive and responsible citizens and creating an adolescent friendly ecosystem. The program builds resilience in the youth via sessions on health and hygiene, gender equity, sexuality and employability. EHSAS utilizes the Gender Transformative Approach (GTA) to transform gender roles and promote more gender-equitable relationships between men and women. Adolescents learn collectively through experiential sessions and through Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools such as theatre, film making and poster/comic strips designing. EHSAS creates support structures for adolescents—in their homes, schools and communities—by sensitizing parents, community members, school teachers and healthcare staff. The program also addresses adolescent’s mental health through providing counselling services and referrals to public healthcare facilities. EHSAS will run in low-income, urban slums within Mumbai over the next three years and will service 2500 adolescents and youth , 1250 parents and 100 public health personnel from across five health posts in Dharavi, Mumbai.