Growing up when we were first drawn to psychology, our choices were met only with raised eyebrows, emphatic concern and sometimes outright protests. “If you study psychology, you will go crazy”, most of us were told. Things surely have come a long way since those days, but unfortunately, the field of psychology still does not get the kind of respect, acceptance and importance it deserves. In fact, a large majority of high schools in India don’t even offer psychology as an optional subject. And that’s how the idea for PsychED really came about – to make psychology accessible, to make it relevant, and to make it fun!

PsychED, the National Psychology Quiz by the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences; under the aegis of Dr Samir Parikh, at Fortis Healthcare is the first of its kind quiz for school students of class XI and XII. Each school was represented by a team of five students. The quiz drew unprecedented interest, with participation from over a 1000 students from 230 schools and junior colleges. Truly national in its scope, we had schools from Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the National Capital Region. Two Indian schools from Singapore participated in the quiz as well. Schools from 49 cities took part in the Quiz.

Spanning over a month, the quiz was carried out over three rounds. The first round was an Online Qualifier held on 24th August, 2016 where students were required to attempt 125 multiple choice questions within the span of one hour. The top 12 highest scoring teams from each regional zone were invited to participate in Round 2, the Zonal Finals.

Keeping in mind the distribution of participating schools – we had six zones with the quiz being held at Fortis Healthcare hospital facilities at Gurgaon, Mohali, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. For many qualifying schools, participating in the zonal round meant reaching airports as early as 4am, and sometimes overnight bus and train journeys as well. We’d like to make a special mention to the schools from Coimbatore and Chennai that made it to Bangalore after having changed multiple taxis and buses, in the midst of the restrictions and conflicts erupting over the Kaveri river dispute. The competition was fierce, with almost every zonal final winner being decided on the basis of a single tie-breaker question after a gruelling two hour quiz.

Finally, six deserving teams were invited on an all-expenses paid trip to the Capital for the National Finale, held on 7th October, 2016 at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon. Here, they six teams battled it out in an intense, three hour competition involving crosswords, audio-visual elements, buzzer rounds, mind-boggling riddles and even a PsychED adaptation of the popular game Taboo. The teams had to step far outside their comfort zones, dig deep into their knowledge and understanding of the human mind and think on their feet.

At the end of the gruelling two month long competition, Bal Bharti School, Pitampura, Delhi was declared the Winner of PsychED, 2016. Along with a trophy, they also received a cash prize of Rs. 50,000. Overwhelmed with the efforts and enthusiasm, our title sponsors G.D. Goenka University also offered the winners a 100% tuition waver for Bachelors’ programmes in their University. In second place, by a very small margin was Sri Kumaran Children’s Home from Bangalore who received a cash prize of Rs. 30,000 and a 50% tuition waver from G.D. Goenka University. The third place was bagged by Daly College Indore, who won Rs. 20,000 along with a 25% tuition waver. We’d also like to congratulate the other three finalists who surpassed over 200 other schools to reach the final round – Maharaja Sawai Mansingh Vidyalaya, Jaipur, Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh, and Christ Church Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Jabalpur. All six finalist teams also won an opportunity to intern with the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Healthcare to get a first-hand experience of psychology as applied in the field of mental healthcare.

PsychED has been a learning experience, not just for school students but for us Team PsychED as well. Most of us probably never read our psychology books as closely even in the days running up to our board exams as we did for PsychED to come up with questions that challenged our quizzers sufficiently. But more than that, the overwhelming fascination, enthusiasm and curiosity we saw in students towards psychology was heart-warming. It’s reassured us that psychology and mental health care do have a bright future in India after all.

That’s it for now, we look forward to meeting again in PsychED 2017!

Team PsychED
Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences
Fortis Healthcare