To help students and parents cope with anxiety and stress before and after the CBSE results, a free, confidential helpline was active between May 26 and June 02
India has one of the highest levels of student suicide … parental pressure is immense, life revolves around exams, and peer pressure often leads to students grappling with stress, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
To help students and parents cope with anxiety and stress before and after the CBSE results, a free, confidential helpline was active between May 26 and June 02 between 10 am to 7 pm, ‘Hopeline’ – 011- 65978181 by NGO Snehi. Students could also seek help online by sending their queries on hopeline98@gmail. com. In addition to being a sounding board for stress related issues, they also provided career guidance. The Hopeline was manned by 15 trained volunteer counselors.
“In India, the significance attached to one’s performance in exams is enormous. Students are under a lot of stress giving rise to anxieties and psychological problems,” said Snehi’s director Abdul Mabood, adding that the counseling services were “confidential and free”.
“Telephonic counseling is an effective preventive measure towards suicide prevention, mental disorders and promotion of positive mental health,” he added.
According to Snehi. since 1998, it has helped over 50,000 students of class 12 and 10 along with 7,455 parents. In addition, close to 25,000 students from class fifth to post graduates have also been counseled.
“We have helped 347 students, who were suicidal,” said Mabood. “Several students talked about committing suicide. So it is very important for parents to talk to their children and make sure that their stress levels are low, ” said Mabood.
In 2012, it got over 2,500 calls of which around 78 percent were from class 10 and 12 students. Over 300 parents called in for help as well.
Snehi is a non-profit, voluntary organization focusing on mental health needs of the community and it is currently involved in advocacy to change the archaic mental health laws in India, as well as many initiatives to do with disability allowance, and the rights of patients choosing their own method towards healing and wellness. www.snehi.org
Real Life Stories
Rahul (name changed) almost completed his 9th class when he approached us with his studying problems. It was observed that he had problems while studying as he never concentrated enough to sit and study at one place. He was given too much freedom that made him even more careless and indisciplined in outlook. His mother was always troubled with his attitude and she constantly nagged him for studying. Rahul was from an elite school with a large social circle of rich friends. They all had a big influence on his lifestyle as he too had a very casual attitude like them. He always complained and stated that why should he study for longer time when his friends don’t study and have fun all the time. His father is a well educated man working at a good post and he too had high expectations from his son to make a worthwhile career like him.
His father didn’t interfere with his studying patterns but showed his concern by scolding Rahul for performing poorly in school. It was also observed that though his mother scolded him, she was never able to maintain discipline or strictness with him. She always told his father that her son is intelligent and secures marks then why make such an issue about his studying. This kind of defensiveness on her part made Rahul more callous and encouraged him to misuse the freedom given to him by his mother. Rahul performed even more poorly with time. He failed in his pre-boards that made his parents more and more concerned about his career. However he had high hopes to make it big by trying for computer engineering or IIT but gradually, as time passed he lost hope and adopted an I don’t care if I succeed in life kind of an attitude.
During his session the counsellor observed his sloppy way of sitting on a chair showing his non seriousness towards everything in life. The counsellor cited examples of an army gentleman and the way his body language talked about his strong personality. Such examples helped Rahul to realize his sloppiness and improve on his body language. Rahul also had a younger brother who was more focused and concentrated on his goals.
However his mother too had a callous attitude like Rahul which explained the fact that why her son is not serious with his life. Rahul was an intelligent boy, but since he was not given the right kind of modeling or goal setting in his life, he lacked focus which in turn made him perform poorly in anything he undertook in his career and life. His mother was counselled and few techniques and strategies were explained to her which helped her to become more serious and strict about his academics. She was told that she must use these strategies and she did by calling us back and informing that she has seen improvement with her son. Rahul too promised that he will definitely change his attitude and secure good marks in his exams.
Rahul is now studying abroad and performing extremely well in his academics. The sessions helped him to focus on his academics and by reworking on his attitude; he has become more focused and disciplined with his career and outlook towards life.
Caller: Jyotsana (name changed) Cleared XII exams in 2004 with Medical Stream
She cleared her XII std. In 2004 with Medical stream and scored 70% marks. She appeared for medical entrance in 2004 but could not get through. She repeated the entrance exams in 2005 and 2006, but couldn’t get through again. She had a dream of becoming a doctor right from her childhood, now she is very depressed as she has been trying for past three years but is unable to clear the entrance exams. She is not ready to accept that she could not make it third time also. Her father is working in a bank and mother is a teacher.
She wants to become a doctor because she is interested in biology, human anatomy, loved dissection classes in school and “doctor” is a very respectable profession for girls. It will also help her to go abroad. She is prejudiced for Paramedical streams & thinks of a career like A Physiotherapist. which is not respectable for girls as one has to perform massages for patients. She never tried to get admission in any undergraduate course like BSc or tried any other allied medical stream, as all she thought of was becoming a “Doctor”. There is no parental pressure for doing MBBS but since she has not been able to get through for past 3 years they are insisting her to join BDS, but she is not interested in BDS, she would prefer doing a BSc degree instead.
On asking why she wants to become a Doctor she was not very clear as to what incident made her take this decision. Her notions about Paramedical stream were based on some family friends opinion. herself she never tried to find out more about paramedical streams.
At the end of the session she came out with that, there is more to life other than being a “Doctor”, she said it was probably the guilt feeling of not pursuing anything else in past 2 years that further aggravated her need to go for only “Doctor” as a profession. She said that it would be better to enroll in an undergraduate course for now rather than taking one more year drop for entrance exams next year. She will try to know more about paramedical streams and she will talk to her mother about her feelings. She also felt a need to move out & meet new people & get new ideas as for past 3 years her life has been limited to coaching institute & home.
She said she was feeling better after sharing her feelings and was somewhat clear about how to take things from hereon.
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