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World Mental Health Day 2021: Mental Anguish of Students

Ruchir Arora, Founder & CEO, CollegeDekhoRuchir Arora

Watching TV shows is not a luxury that I tend to have these days, but the second season of Kota Factory that came out recently hit close to home. 

The story that is so brazenly portrayed is one that plays around us day in and day out. It is a story that I see ever so often in my interaction with students.

Indian students are considered to be among the sharpest in the world. We pride ourselves on having institutions with a stellar reputation. Our graduates have made a name for themselves in almost every industry & every country, be it Satya Nadella or Sundar Pichai or Indira Nooyi and others. In fact, in a survey conducted in 2015, it was revealed that 30% of the Fortune 500 Companies have Indians as their CEOs and about one-third of all the engineers in Silicon Valley (USA) are from India and 10% of the world’s high tech company CEO’s are all Indians.

We pride ourselves on hosting some of the toughest competitive examinations in the world. And, indeed, our students show extraordinary discipline, strength and dedication in acing those exams.

Student Life is Not Easy

Students almost constantly face new situations. At the same time that they are developing their own thought process and ideals, they are also developing an understanding of personal relationships.

All this while also facing the pressure of doing well in their studies and getting good marks in their exams.

All of these metrics are vital in the healthy development of any individual. They simply cannot be ignored.

Balancing the personal, professional and self is not easy even for working professionals with years of experience at hand. For students, it is perplexing how to deal with everything.

Parents and teachers are often seen asking students to focus on their studies and spend less time with friends. How can we expect our children to grow up into balanced individuals when we often introduce the unbalance in their lives ourselves?

The underbelly of this strenuous education system harbours a breeding ground for mental health diseases.

Mental Health Issues Are Prevalent Among Students

As per an India Today report, 3 out of 4 students are suffering from “high to severe stress”. More than half of our students suffer from “moderate to extremely severe depression”.

The COVID-19 lockdown has ushered in a fresh new set of problems. The IT study says that nearly 60% of college students reported an increase in their stress levels and deterioration of their mental health.

Students have had to undergo a complete change of lifestyle. The shift towards online learning necessitated by the lockdown has not been favourable for every student either. It is truly a difficult time for our students.

How We Can Help Students Overcome Mental Health Challenges

The issue of mental health is a complex one and it should be tackled with urgency and care. Changes become difficult due to the sheer complexity of the Indian education system. Hence, there is a need for us to come together and there are a couple of changes that we can together adopt and implement to help make the situation better for our students.

The Role of Parents

The role of parents, I believe, as the primary caretaker, is vital to solving this issue. As parents, it is our duty to push our children to nurture their skill sets and become a better version of themselves.

At the same time, we must also be the source of encouragement, guidance and positive information. We must encourage healthy discussions on this topic.

We must help our children avoid any misinformation surrounding mental health issues. To discuss them openly and to provide a safe space for students to bring up their issues and heal.

The Role of Educational Institutions

Given the stress and competition in our higher education domain, our educational institutions currently lack a proper infrastructure to ensure the mental health safety of the students. Launching mental health initiatives in colleges and universities must be taken up on priority.

Educational institutions must bring professionals on board who can assist and counsel students in case of mental health emergencies.

The Role of Students

We often turn to our friends for advice in times of need. Hence, students can also have a pivotal impact in helping abate this crisis. Hence, they are the first line of defence for their friend who may be going through a mental health emergency.

The Role of EdTech

EdTech is a rapidly growing sector. In the age of the internet, it impacts the lives of millions of students each and every day.

At CollegeDekho, we believe in helping students make the right college and career decisions. Instead of just providing college options to the students who wish to pursue a certain course, our counselling team relies on one-on-one interaction with the student.

The intent is to educate, inform and help students make the perfect choice to help them advance in their careers.

On this Mental Health Day, it is time we realise our responsibility as a community to help and protect our students. Collectively, we can help pave a brighter future for our youth and help them become not only better academicians but also better human beings.

Also read: 

Alarming child mental health crisis

Teenage girls suffer worse mental health than boys

World Mental Health Day: Impact of the pandemic on teachers

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