As many of you may know, CorStone launched its Children’s Resiliency Program in India last October 2009, with a successful kick-off training for 55 teachers from a dozen schools in 5 cities. What you may not know, is that since that time we’ve been working in partnership with Sangath, an internationally renowned mental health research group based in Goa, India, to objectively evaluate the program on our behalf.
Specifically, Sangath conducted baseline and follow-up mental health assessments with approximately 75 adolescent girls going through our program at The Hope Project school in New Delhi. The Hope Project is a well-respected local nonprofit that operates a school, medical clinic, job training program, and other services in a 400 year old Muslim village — many of its residents in poor health and living in poverty, with cultural norms that have traditionally frowned upon secular education, particularly for girls.
Beginning in November 2009, 7 of the teachers we trained at the Hope Project began facilitating weekly one-hour support groups (10-12 students per group) with the girls. Each weekly session consisted of 20 minutes of a specially-designed resiliency curriculum developed by CorStone, followed by open sharing using Restorative Practices (conflict resolution/problem-solving) approaches. Needless to say we’ve been eagerly awaiting word from Sangath on how our program is working!
The primary mental health assessment tool Sangath used is the ‘SDQ’, which is well recognized in the international mental health arena, and has been used successfully in many studies in India and other developing countries. Midway into the weekly one hour program (12 weeks), here’s what they found:
SDQ Completed By Teachers
– Students scoring Normal on SDQ Total increased from 33.0% in pre-test to 60.8% in post-test (after 12 weeks of the intervention);
– Students scoring Borderline increased from 21.6% to 24.7%, and
– Students scoring Abnormal decreased considerably from 45.4% to 6.2% in post-test.
Self Reported SDQ Completed By Student
– Students scoring Normal on SDQ Total increased from 52.6% in pre-test to 66.0% in post-test;
– Students with Borderline and Abnormal scores also decreased after the intervention.
These results are huge, far better than we anticipated. Typically even a few % points change would already have been considered beneficial. We will have qualitative (teacher/student interviews) data by end June, as well as a final SDQ assessment in a few weeks at the completion of the program…but preliminary feedback from the teachers, students and school administrators already demonstrates clearly that we’re onto something impactful, sustainable and cost-effective.
Stay tuned for more! And if you’re interested in working with us on this very pioneering program — as a partner, donor, trainer — please don’t hesitate to contact me at CorStone. Phase II of the program envisions a research effort involving 10 schools, a randomized control design and 1,000 children, with implementation in severe high-need communities of India. We need your support!
– Steve Leventhal, Executive Director