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Amid rising suicides, here are initiatives by IITs for mental health

According to the Ministry of Education since 2018, at least 33 students have committed suicide across IITs

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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With another suicide at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the focus for these prime engineering colleges is back on mental health, the Economic Times (ET) reported.

According to the Ministry of Education since 2018, at least 33 students have committed suicide across IITs.

There has been an increase in these suicide deaths at these IITs in the past few years and this has raised alarm for authorities as well as these colleges. The recent death of an IIT-Madras student by suicide on April 21 has again put the spotlight on the mental health challenges students face and has forced these colleges to take efforts in this direction.

To help students cope with the pressure of academic performance, depression, homesickness, stress and discrimination, the IITs are taking several measures like wellness sessions, awareness campaigns, psychological scale assessment platforms and tie-ups with external e-counselling services.

Here's a look at a few initiatives taken by colleges to deal with the challenges of mental health problems:

IIT-Madras, which has already seen four student suicides this year, started a series of wellness sessions for its students recently. The programme was initiated with the support of the National Health Mission under the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Health and Family Welfare to spread awareness on mental health problems.

IIT-Madras director V Kamakoti was quoted as saying that the college will carry out a wellness survey for the entire campus in the next academic session and the college is working with organisations, including Nimhans and National Health Authority (NHA).

The college is also hosting gatekeeper sessions for faculty and volunteers to identify students who are struggling to cope with stress and extend help to them. They are also working on expanding the counsellor network, the report said. 

Recently, the mental health of students was discussed at a recent IIT Council meeting in Bhubaneswar. The need to increase access to psychological counselling services, reduce pressure and reduce the fear of failure among students were primarily discussed at this meeting. 

Aditya Mittal, dean of student affairs at IIT-Delhi, which runs multiple mentorship programmes, was also quoted in the report as saying that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address mental health issues.

IIT-D will be hosting a mentorship programme targeted at first-year students this year, a first since the Pandemic. Mittal further informed that IIT-D has three verticals in the post-pandemic era: for personal adjustment, for academic needs and for early detection either related to academics or non-academics. And there has been an increase in the number of sensitisation meetings and open house meetings as well. 

IIT-Hyderabad runs a 'Sunshine buddy programme' to invite volunteers from the student body to be a buddy to support their peers from their department.

IIT-Roorkee has taken several initiatives like establishing a wellness centre that provides psychological assessment and interventions by eight counsellors to counter the challenge of Mental health issues. Every counsellor in this centre has special training in specific therapeutic models and can cover different languages, which makes them more approachable.

IIT-Roorkee has not reported any suicide in the last five years.

At IIT-Guwahati provides mandatory counselling to all newly admitted B.Tech students. The college also runs a 'Know Your Neighbours' campaign to provide adequate social support and develop a sense of community among students. There is a facility for counselling support offered between 9 AM and 8 PM on all working days. Every student has been assigned a student volunteer as a peer mentor.

The college also has a welfare board that works closely with the academic section and identifies those with poor academic performance and extends support to help them in their regular activities.

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First Published: Apr 30 2023 | 1:59 PM IST

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