UGC Draft Guidelines Asking To Create Cells For Addressing Mental Health Issues Of Students

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UGC Draft Guidelines Asking To Create Cells For Addressing Mental Health Issues Of Students

The guidelines include specific 'cells' to maintain records of stress-prone students and promote students' emotional, psychological, and physical well-being in colleges and universities.

India's understanding and acceptance of mental health as a concept have made huge progress in the past few years. This has resulted in crucial guidelines drafted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to establish 'Student Service Centres' for tackling mental health issues among students across colleges, universities, and higher education institutions in India.

The guidelines, titled 'Promotion of Physical Fitness, Sports, Students' Health, Welfare, Psychological and Emotional Well Being', will be released soon for feedback and amendments, focusing on ensuring the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of the students that require guidance in the same aspects. These centres would aim to identify stress-prone and vulnerable students and provide them with the assistance they need.

Dedicated Cells For Well-Being

Under these guidelines, it will be mandatory for all higher education institutions to have dedicated campus counsellors that can help the students. Additionally, specific cells would also be established to maintain records of the students who are from vulnerable and stress-prone backgrounds and capacities, reported The Indian Express.

Physical fitness, in the form of sports and extra-curricular activities, would also be promoted, along with special psychological care for students residing in rural areas, and from diverse cultures. Females and students from the LGBTQIA+ community would also be given extra care in terms of emotional and psychological counselling.

Awareness for the LGBTQIA+ Community

The guidelines drafted include special care for the students from the LGBTQIA+ community, to help provide them with the psycho-social support and counselling they need. This would be of major importance, as there are a lot of psychological services that refuse therapy to people from the community due to personal bias and prejudices.

Due to the discrimination, bullying, and shame associated with being of a certain gender or sexuality, an alarming number of college students had either dropped out, searched for therapy options, or died by suicide due to the lack of acceptance even in the medical fraternity. In October 2021, the National Medical Commission had called for the amendment of all textbooks in medical institutions that contained 'unscientific information' about the community.

This statement came after the judgement from the Madras High Court which stated that while teaching in UG or PG colleges and universities, nomenclature concerning gender or sex should not be taught in a way that is or is perceived to be, discriminatory or derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community. This, coupled with a step towards inclusivity by the UGC, would be highly beneficial to students of the community.

Hope for Decrease in Drop-Out Rates

As reported by News18, UGC claims that this move would help reduce college drop-out rates, and with feedback from the students, the respective colleges can design strategies that would act as a resolution of the mental health issues of their students.

Students are often detached from their comfort zones when they go to college, and UGC's guidelines urge institutions to avoid taking severe measures to tackle deviant behaviour, and instead focus on help from professionals like psychiatrists and psychologists to understand the students' intentions and motives and use those as the basis for resolution.

Continued Focus on Mental Health

Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the conversation around mental health and psychological well-being has taken a front seat in schools and colleges, alike. UGC had asked higher education institutions to establish mental health helplines as a means to assist and take care of the psychological and social concerns of the students.

Regular mentoring, checking in, and telephonic or video call interactions were encouraged at a college level too. UGC had also launched a central toll-free helpline (084611007) to assist with behavioural and emotional concerns.

Also Read: Changemakers! Here's How These 6 NGOs Are Combating Mental Health Issues In India

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Writer : Yukta Baid
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Snehadri Sarkar

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