Delhi makes ‘Happiness’ a mantra against Covid-19

As the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi administration is using the formulae of ‘Happiness’ for patients and school children to help them pull through the difficult times, Pari Saikia writes

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a global shut-down — closure of borders, restrictions on mass movements and travel, suspension of academic institutions, offices, courts, businesses, shops and transportation. The mankind is faced with an unprecedented situation and the lockdown is also resulting in stress, and in some cases, rising depression among people. There have been reports of domestic violence cases surging across the world. The news of slowing economy, pay-cuts and layoffs also exacerbate the stress among the masses. The widespread outbreak of Covid-19 has brought life to a grinding halt.

Amid all the grim scenarios, India’s capital city Delhi has found an innovative way to keep people in good mental health. The Delhi government has embarked on a number of measures including the implementation of ‘Happiness Therapy’ for the mental well-being of patients suffering from COVID-19. One such government hospital in the Capital to start the programme is the Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan (CBPACS).

Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan has been dedicatedly turned into a ward for coronavirus patients. One of the members of the hospital told Tehelka that the ‘Happiness Therapy’ is applied only after the patients are examined to check on their stability. There are more than 30 patients admitted currently. The therapy is given in the morning after breakfast and evening.

“Patients are examined thoroughly before the therapy is given to them. Since most COVID-19 infected people suffer from mild or critical breathing problem, one of the symptoms in coronavirus, it is necessary for the doctors to see that the patients are in stable condition to benefit from the ‘Happiness Therapy’,” said one of the sources at CBPACS.

According to the hospital, the patients are liking the therapy since it helps them to cope with COVID-19 in being positive and hopeful, and also helps uplift their mood.

“The responses are positive so far but we have just started so it would be too early to comment on it,” said CBPACS.  ‘Happiness Therapy’ for Covid-19 patients consists of fun activities such as yoga, laughing therapy, clapping therapy, inspirational songs and light breathing exercises to help patients recover faster from the disease.

The therapy is already practiced in most of the hospitals in Delhi but it is for the first time that it is being applied on COVID-19 patients ever since the pandemic hit India.

The initiative of Happiness Therapy was mooted by the Delhi government in 2019, and after the success of the initiative on the patients, many hospitals started adopting it.

After its success in GTB Hospital in January 2019, the therapy was implemented in five more hospitals — Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences (MAIDS), Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan and Rao Tula Ram Memorial Hospital. The aim of the programme, according to the Delhi government, is to help in the ‘speedy recovery and better healing’ of the patients.

The therapy here involves the use of fun-filled activities such as dance, songs, yoga, meditation and laughter to enable a holistic and speedy recovery of the patients. The program, which has so far been implemented across 16 hospitals aims for physical cognitive, emotional and social integration of patients and hospital staff.

Worldwide, the heart-warming videos of doctors and hospital staff dancing and singing in the wards to lift the spirit of the Covid-19 patients have been going viral in many countries. Other health experts are using a number of techniques to keep the Covid-19 patients in a happy mood amid the gloom. It’s said there is no medicine better than laughter, and this is what the government hopes to do with the Happiness Therapy. 

At the time of filing the story, there were 2,514 total cases of coronavirus in Delhi, 1,604 active cases, 857 people recovered and 53 died due to coronavirus infections.

Happiness Classes for students

Another noteworthy initiative by the Delhi government has been the introduction of Happiness Classes in the schools of the capital city. To make sure that the lockdown in the Capital due to outbreak of coronavirus doesn’t come in the way of education, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister, Manish Sisodia launched “Every Home a School, Every Parent a Teacher” initiative.

The initiative called “Every Home a School, Every Parent a Teacher” was envisaged to enable parents to conduct such classes at homes and help their children tide over the long school break. The parents receive daily briefings through audio calls on how to conduct reading, writing, maths activities and tips on mindfulness and empathy to do it at homes.

The minister recently presided over the second live session of ‘Parenting in the time of Corona’ discussing the importance of transforming homes into engaging classrooms for students with the help of parent amidst the ongoing nationwide lockdown.

The government urged lakhs of students to avail special classes on Happiness Curriculum and Mission Buniyaad at their homes amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

In these turbulent times, happiness classes will be instrumental in helping us create a positive environment for our kids at home,” Manish Sisodia said.

“The purpose behind the Happiness curriculum is to make children introspect and get to know themselves better. Mindfulness is practiced by all 16 lakh students everyday in our schools. We are all gripped with anxiety today. These are unusual times and we do not know what to do as a fun activity . We cannot go out, can’t go for movies, or sit in the parks, we are confined to our homes, with our family. In such situations, it is possible to get irritated with one another, and we don’t know how to refresh our minds as we are still restricted to our homes. Under these circumstances, Happiness class is all the more important,” Sisodia added.

The Delhi government announced it would help conduct the activities of Happiness class at home every day by the parents. The government said it would support around eight lakh students and their families to practise mindful meditation with the help of teachers. “It is important to turn the atmosphere positive in our homes and make the families spend quality time together,” added Manish Sisodia.

According to Binay Bhushan, Director, Education, the lockdown should be used as an opportunity to tutor kids at their homes. “We had planned to start Mission Buniyaad in April, but this could not happen owing to the lockdown. So, we now request the parents to start coaching their kids to make them start reading and writing few lines everyday, and solve basic math problems. This will create a good environment at home. It is also a good way to help tackle boredom if parents start coming up with creative ways to teach their kids. We will help the parents to take on the role of a teacher for their kids,” he added.

The focus in Mission Buniyaad is to strengthen the foundational skills of the children through basic activities through which they can get to learn while playing it too, a Delhi government circular said.

The happiness curriculum was introduced by the Delhi government two years ago, but during the lockdown it has been a very useful asset as the students’ have now learned to concentrate and focus.

Amid all the gloomy developments linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi administration is using the formulae of ‘Happiness’ for patients and school children to help them pull through the difficult times.