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Panel B: Supporting Children in South Asia

Location: Rm. 1009

Dikshant Uprety, “Making Music Against Child Labour”: Popular Musicians, Class, and Anti-Child Labor Campaigns in Nepal

Research Affiliate, Carolina Asia Center, UNC-Chapel Hill

Keywords: music, child labor

Out of 7 million children in Nepal, 1.1 million work as laborers. Since the 1990s, the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency promoting social justice and labor rights, has been collaborating with the Nepali state and local organizations to end child labor. In 2016, the Nepal office of ILO (ILO-Nepal) hired a local music producer from Kathmandu to compose a Nepali adaptation of ‘Till Everyone Can See, a song composed by Mike Einziger, guitarist of American rock band Incubus, and violinist Ann Marie Simpson for the ILO global office’s “Red Card to Child Labour” campaign. In this presentation, I discuss how class played a key role when it came to the ILO employees’ decision-making regarding the selection of musical sounds (modern instead of traditional) and musicians (urban instead of rural) for the job of composing the Nepali version of the song. I will also discuss: who exactly the audiences for such musical compositions are? Data for this research was collected among Kathmandu’s middle-and-upper class rock and fusion musicians from 2018 to 2019. This research contributes to our understanding on how child labour continues to be prevalent in the Global South due to extreme poverty, class dynamics, and uneven capitalist development.


Anameeka Singh, “Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Children and Teachers’ Mental Health in Darjeeling, India: A Qualitative Study”

Graduate Student, Department of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill

Keywords: task-shifting intervention, COVID-19, child mental health

The under-acknowledgement of mental health and stigmatization of seeking support are critical issues seen in the South Asian community. Previous studies conducted in Darjeeling, India have shown the efficacy of Tealeaf (Teachers Leading the Frontlines), an intervention that trains teachers to recognize and care for children in need of mental health support. The COVID-19 pandemic catapulted mental health into the spotlight and is believed to have had significant impacts on children and teachers’ mental health. This study explores the difficulties experienced by teachers engaging in Tealeaf and any difference in teachers’ and caregivers’ evaluation of children’s mental health during the pandemic.
Numerous semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were conducted with principals, teachers, and caregivers from March 2020-April 2021. Inductive content analysis was used to process these interview transcripts and identify emergent themes that provided a qualitative picture of the pandemic’s impact on various stakeholders.
Teachers experienced difficulties with running school and Tealeaf virtually due to unreliable access to Internet, variable access to phones and WhatsApp, and behavioral changes in children (e.g. less attention span, boredom) that interfered with completion of schoolwork. While parents and teachers both saw evidence of behavioral changes in children, teachers mentioned a belief that children’s challenges with school could be tied to limitations around teachers’ abilities to offer academic support through the virtual environment and a lack of guidance from parents at home.
Exploring the impact of the latest public health crisis on the ongoing mental health crisis is vital to understanding mental health in various cultural contexts and adapting modalities of therapy going forward. The findings highlight the importance of resources/accessibility and accentuate the need for public messaging and more communication between stakeholders within Darjeeling, India.

Amita Bollapragada, “School Professional and Caregiver Understanding of Causes of Children Mental Health Concerns in Rural Darjeeling, India”

Graduate Student, Department of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill

Keywords: cultural context, mental health, India

The mental health needs of children in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) such as India often go unmet due to the scarcity of mental health professionals. Pilot trials in Darjeeling, India have illustrated the potential of Tealeaf (Teachers Leading the Frontlines), a task-shifting model with teachers as lay counselors, to improve child mental health symptoms within an LMIC context. Understanding the cultural context in which Tealeaf has shown signals of efficacy has not yet been studied, but is key to understanding Tealeaf’s efficacy results (trial ongoing). This study aims to specifically explore school professional and caregiver culturally held beliefs about causes of child mental health concerns.

Twelve semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were conducted March-April 2022 with purposively selected principals, teachers, and caregivers. With the goal of qualitative description, SSIs were coded using deductive content analysis to understand stakeholder perceptions of causes of mental health concerns, with codes fitted to the The Culturally-Infused Engagement (CIE) model (Yasui et al., 2017).

Participants believed that major determinants of children’s behavior are biological and the home environment, with guidance from parents and peer influences leading to different outcomes. Younger children are perceived to be capable of feeling stress and sadness only related to academics. Participants also believe that children have a developing ability to feel these emotions and express their thoughts.
Exploring communities culturally held beliefs about causes of children’s mental health concerns is the first step in understanding how stakeholders think Tealeaf can improve children’s mental health. The findings provide insight into a key facet underlying a task-shifted system of care in which Tealeaf can engage with the specific cultural context of Darjeeling, India more sustainably.