From an 18-year-old has killed at least 18 in a mass shooting in Texas, a research scholar at Aligarh Muslim University has attempted suicide over the past 48 hours. Over 100 students had died by suicide in top educational institutes since 2014, Union Minister of Education had informed Lok Sabha earlier this year. According to the data shared in Parliament, as many as 122 students had killed themselves of which most were from central universities (37). IITs are second with 34 students dying by suicide since 2014. Among IITians, as many as 13 students were from OBC and five from the SC category, according to government data.
To ensure that students dealing with mental, physical, emotional issues have help, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has introduced a variety of initiatives. Here is a guide to where to seek help if you or anyone you know is struggling while at educational institute.
Manodarpan: The initiative aims to address the psychosocial issues of students. It includes support and counselling sessions for students in regard with their mental health and wellbeing. Students can call the toll-free national helpline number — 8448440632 for counselling. It also includes a handbook on 21st century life skills, for the students of schools, colleges and universities. Using the helpline number, they can interact online or chat with the counsellors about their issues.
Student Centres: UGC has asked colleges, universities, and other higher educational institutes across India to set-up ‘student service centres’ which will aim at identifying vulnerable and stress-prone students and extend them guidance. While the guidelines will be aimed at promoting physical fitness, sports, emotional and psychological wellbeing among students, special care will LGBT students, kids hailing from rural side of the country, females, students from divergent cultural backgrounds, and students with special needs.
NCERT Counseling Services for School Children: This initiative was launched in April 2020 to support students mental health amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has caused strong feelings such as sadness, fear, anxiety, helplessness, uncertainty, loss of interest and hopelessness. To provide support and address mental health concerns of children during and after COVID-19, NCERT announces ‘Counselling Services for School Students’ through its trained counselors,” reads the official website. Students willing to seek guidance can get in touch with counselors via WhatsApp, mobile number and email address provided region-wise on the website. Around 270 counsellors across different regions of the country provide counselling sessions to the students for free.
Toll-Free Helpline: UGC had asked higher educational institutes to set-up helplines for mental health, psychosocial concern and well-being of students. College were also instructed to regularly mentor students through interactions, appeals via telephone, emails, and social media platforms. In 2020, a behaviour health, psycho-social toll free helpline (084611007) was also launched by UGC
SAHYOG: Guidance for Mental Wellbeing of Children: This includes live interactive sessions mental wellbeing of children. The sessions are telecasted on 12 PM eVidya DTH-TV channels for classes 1 to 12. The govt had introduced this for students to handle stress and anxiety and it consists of recorded videos on yoga as well as other digital resources made available on DIKSHA platform.
CBSE initiative: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has arranged pre-exam and post-result, tele-counselling services, for students. It includes a toll-free helpline number which students can contact and take help fronm trained counsellors and principals across India as well as in other countries such as Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Nepal and Kuwait. The “Toll-Free Tele Helpline on CORONA VIRUS safeguards was set up by CBSE for students as well as general public and provided guidance on preventive care and counselled them about their fears and concerns.”
Wellbeing material by NCERT: Under the aegis of the School Health Programme under Ayushman Bharat, the NCERT has developed a comprehensive package known as ‘Training and Resource Material: Health and Wellness of School-going Children’. It includes a specific module on the “Emotional Well-being and Mental Health”, which has activities related to the mental health and well-being of students and teachers.