A wellness session series to increase mental health awareness, to recognize and combat stress in students, was launched by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras on April 19.
The spate of suicides in the premier educational institution has brought the issue of mental health to the fore. According to a report, in the past ten years, 14 students have died by suicide on the IIT campus. Recently, the students staged a protest seeking a fair probe into the death of Sachin Kumar Jain, a PhD scholar from the institute’s mechanical engineering department, who had taken his life at his residence in Velachery on March 31 this year.
Also read: IIT Madras student found dead in hostel room, suicide suspected
At the launch of the wellness series, Prof V Kamakoti, director, IIT Madras, detailed the various initiatives taken by IIT Madras to convert IIT Madras campus into a “Be Happy” one. He shared that IIT Madras has launched a new website https://behappy.iitm.ac.in/, which is targetted primarily at students’ mental well-being.
There will be a time-bound redressal mechanism and frequent and timely interactions between faculty advisors and students, he said. This website also offers the “Listeners Option”, wherein the students can reach out for support.
The wellness session series kicked off with a lecture on ‘An Introduction to Positive Mental Health’ by Dr M Malaiappan, director and professor of psychiatry, Madras Medical College. This was followed by a detailed presentation on ‘Early Identification of Depression’ by Dr M S Jagadeesan, professor of psychiatry, Madras Medical College. After which, an interactive session was held in which students participated.
This programme by IIT Madras is being conducted with the support of the National Health Mission, department of health and family Welfare, Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, Shilpa Prabhakar Sathish, IAS, mission director of the National Health Mission, talked about the department’s ‘Mana Nala Nallaatharavu Mandram’ (MaNaM) programme, which focuses on promoting the mental health and well-being of students in colleges in the state, by empowering them to recognise psychological symptoms early and seek help appropriately.
Sathish also stated the college years are an important developmental stage for students, when they face major challenges in the areas of education, social and personal life. Most students successfully overcome these challenges but some require the support of their parents, teachers and friends to overcome stress and other issues.
Tamil Nadu has reached out to 2,56,959 NEET aspirants and also provided special counseling services to 1,524 students, who had returned from Ukraine, said Sathish. IIT Madras has a similar programme called ‘MiTR,’ which is a student support initiative.
IIT students will also have mental health tele counselling services called TeleManas (14416), which is a 24X7 toll-free helpline providing quick mental health counseling services to students in times of distress. In addition, the counsellors and psychologists in IIT will also be offered ‘fellowship courses’ to strengthen their counselling and psychotherapy skills.