NIMHANS and Deakin University, Australia to establish a Centre of Excellence

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Bangalore: Deakin University, Australia and NIMHANS [National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences] signed a MoU to establish a Centre of Excellence to expand studies on neurodevelopment in early childhood through adolescence, especially in differently abled children. It will be situated within NIMHANS and is a sister institute of the Deakin Child Study Centre based in Australia (DCSC),

The Centre of Excellence will focus on research to understand neurodevelopment from early childhood to adolescence. This is a critical time during which a child learns pivotal skills to regulate emotions, interact with peers and develop a sense of self. This developmental period poses a broad range of challenges for children, parents, teachers, coaches and health professionals. Central to the development of social and emotional wellbeing is the ability to understand the challenges of children of all abilities, including children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Research has shown that early intervention is imperative to tackle neurodevelopmental disorders.

The program at the Centre of Excellence will be based on three pillars –

1. Establish “What matters” – Apply innovative approaches to assess and measure in order to understand and characterise the developing brain and neurological disorder.

2. Improve outcomes of children with disorders – Utilise novel psychological interventions that demonstrate great promise in treating clinical symptoms in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

3. Work and engage with the community – Ensure that every child with a development and/or mental health conditions has the best possible opportunity to reach his/her full developmental potential.

Speaking at the signing of the MoU, Prof Jane den Hollander, Vice-Chancellor, Deakin University, Australia said “The three pillars will help the Centre of Excellence remain focused on developing child-centred interventions.”

Reiterating the Centre‘s dedication to working with the community, Prof Jane den Hollander, further added, “ With these interventions we hope to create inclusive environments where children of all abilities feel secure to thrive socially and emotionally, and to have the same access to community participation as their peers. We intend to use our experiences from DCSC in Australia and map it as per the requirements of a diverse country like India.”

Adding to this, Prof B. N. Gangadhar, Director, NIMHANS stated that “The importance of providing mental support during the formative years of child development is crucial. This support multiplies when the child is differently abled. In these cases, the need to provide equal exposure to all external factors like education and sports also become important. The centre will gain immensely through this collaboration where in NIMHANS understands the local needs and Deakin brings in the international experience.”

In the future, the Centre will also introduce dual PhD program with the clinical psychology department at NIMHANS. The program is also proposed expand to other departments that facilitate student mobility and provide clinical internships for Australian students with shared clinical supervision.