Of an 18-year-old who killed at least 18 in a mass shooting in Texas, a researcher at Aligarh Muslim University has attempted suicide in the past 48 hours. More than 100 students have died by suicide in top educational institutions since 2014, the Union’s education minister had told Lok Sabha earlier this year. According to data shared in Parliament, as many as 122 students had committed suicide, most of them from central universities (37). IITs rank second with 34 students who have died by suicide since 2014. Among IITians, as many as 13 were students from OBC and five from the SC category, according to government data.
To ensure that students dealing with mental, physical and emotional problems receive help, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has launched several initiatives. Here’s a guide to where to get help if you or someone you know is struggling during your education.
Manodarpan: The initiative aims to tackle the psychosocial problems of students. It includes support and counseling sessions for students regarding their mental health and well-being. Students can call the toll-free National Helpline Number – 8448440632 for counseling. It also includes a 21st century life skills handbook for students of schools, colleges and universities. Using the helpline number, they can communicate online or chat with the counselors about their problems.
Student centers: UGC has asked colleges, universities and other higher education institutions across India to set up ‘student service centers’ aimed at identifying vulnerable and stress-prone students and providing them with guidance. While the guidelines aim to promote physical fitness, sports, emotional and psychological well-being among students, special care will be given to LGBT students, children from the rural side of the country, women, students from diverse cultural backgrounds and students with special needs.
NCERT counseling services for school children: This initiative was launched in April 2020 to support student mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has caused strong feelings such as sadness, fear, anxiety, helplessness, insecurity, loss of interest and hopelessness. To provide support and address mental health issues of children during and after COVID-19, NCERT is announcing “Counselling Services for School Students” through its trained counselors,” the official website reads. Students seeking guidance can contact counselors via WhatsApp, mobile number, and email address listed regionally on the website. About 270 counselors in different regions of the country offer free counseling sessions to the students.
Free Helpline: UGC had asked higher education institutions to set up helplines for mental health, psychosocial problems and student well-being. College was also tasked with regularly mentoring students through interactions, phone calls, emails, and social media platforms. In 2020, UGC also launched a behavioral health, psychosocial toll-free helpline (084611007)
SAHYOG: Children’s Mental Wellbeing Guidelines: This includes live interactive sessions of children’s mental wellbeing. The sessions will be broadcast on 12 PM eVidya DTH-TV channels for grades 1 to 12. The government had put this in place for students to deal with stress and anxiety and it consists of recorded videos about yoga and other digital resources available on the DIKSHA platform.
CBSE initiative: The Central Council for Secondary Education (CBSE) has arranged pre-exam and post-result, tele-counselling services for students. It includes a toll-free helpline number for students to contact and get help from trained counselors and directors across India and in other countries such as Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, and Kuwait. The “free telephone helpline on CORONA VIRUS safeguards has been set up by CBSE for both students and the general public, providing advice on preventive care and advising them about their fears and concerns.”
Wellness material by NCERT: Under the auspices of the School Health Program 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 “Emotional Well-being and Mental Health”, with activities related to the mental health and well-being of students and teachers.
This news item can be triggering. If you or someone you know needs help, call one of these helplines: Aasra (Mumbai) 022-27546669, Sneha (Chennai) 044-24640050, Sumaitri (Delhi) 011-23389090, Cooj (Goa) 0832-2252525, Jeevan (Jamshedpur ) 065-76453841, Pratheeksha (Kochi) 048-42448830, Maithri (Kochi) 0484-2540530, Roshni (Hyderabad) 040-66202000, Lifeline 033-64643267 (Kolkata)
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