The mental health of many has been affected significantly over the past year and a half. This is mostly because of the pandemic, its multiple waves, and its devastating effect on people’s lives. There has been a rise in cases of mental health issues across the globe, especially so among the outgoing youth. The institute has made considerable efforts to combat these effects on its students.
Dr. Priyanka Srivastava, a faculty member, and the campus mental health care coordinator, and Ms. Niyati Mishra, a campus counselor, worked alongside Shreyas HN, Vanalata Bolusu, Sarigama Yerra, Mukund Chaudhary, and Aditya K Srivastav, and a few who belong to the medical profession, formulated a robust team to tackle the issue.
The team has had multiple meets online to discuss these matters and has brought the focus of these sessions into practical action, and plan the series and its associated structure and map out the focus of the talks. They have also designed a website for this cause whose development is already underway.
Having had conversations with students who opined on the idea, the members of the core mental health team, joined by mental health professionals from campus, Dr. Chytanya, and Dr. Kiranmayi Bapi, alongside Prof. Mamidi, are strongly convinced that the mental health awareness series will add value to students’ lives and hence, went ahead with the plan.
The teamwork started in February 2021 with multiple ideas with action plans such as the aforementioned website, survey design for mental health and well-being, questionnaires to screen for the level of awareness regarding the matter among students, flyers for mental well-being awareness, and videos on mental health awareness. It has also aimed at involving more students and faculty in the mental health team, strengthening the mental first aid group, and holding campus activities to support the mental wellbeing of campus residents.
The 90-minute sessions – held on the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday and the 4th Monday of every month – involved psychiatrists, counselors, and psychotherapists voicing their thoughts. Most sessions had one leading speaker while others were present to share experiences and listen to students’ queries and stories.
There have been a total of five sessions till now. The first session, which was held on the 26th of May, touched upon varying mental health and well-being concerns, like distinguishing healthy and unhealthy stress, strategies and tools to cope with stress and seek help in case of persistent episodes, and how time management is related to individual wellbeing and mental health. This was followed by strategies to organize time effectively.
The sessions were interactive and received positive responses from the students and faculty. The participants shared their stories, concerns, and raised questions. In case any student was not satisfied with the response, the mental health team personally approached the said student to bridge the gap, as the whole purpose of the sessions was to open, talk, and share.
The planning of these sessions began with the onset of the lockdown as Dr. Srivastava engaged with several students to let them know of the mental health team always being available to them in time of need. A session has been hosted almost every semester since then, with topic-specific sessions being held as well – two sessions were conducted with a clinical psychologist, Mr. Baijesh Ramesh, on psychological well-being amid the growing uncertainties due to COVID-19.
In 2019, the institute conducted sessions on addiction and substance abuse by Mr. Baijesh Ramesh from Chetana Hospital; effects of substance use and abuse on the brain by Dr. Ram Mohan from Vijaya Diagnostics; substance use and abuse through legal glass by IPS Dr. Akun Sabarwal; a session on depression and sadness by Dr. Bharat Reddy from Asha Hospital; and another session on anxiety and stress by Dr. Chytanya. The institute’s contribution towards addressing the mental health issues of students is, hence, not entirely recent but rather something that has been in progress since 2018-19.
The mental health of individuals being catered to is of utmost importance, especially in the modern, fast-paced world, and this team is making considerable efforts in ensuring that the students have a better state of mind.
Editor: Pooja Desur
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