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Thursday, October 13, 2016

IIT-M launches online counselling - TNN

Updated: Oct 13, 2016, 12.51 AM IST

CHENNAI: To help students easily access mechanisms that can assist in dealing with stress, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has introduced an online emotional wellness platform called 'YourDOST aims to increase awareness regarding mental wellness and break the prevalent social stigma attached to seeking psychological help on campus. The mechanism has been introduced in the hope that a larger number of students would be more comfortable on an online forum when compared to the existing face-to-face system.

The anonymous forum functions similar to a chatroom where students with a user ID and password can log onto a counselling session. These sessions are usually a one-on-one with a professional at the other end. The institute has roped in a number of experts including psychologists, life coaches and career coaches.

General secretary of the student body, Purab Jain says that there is a lot of stigma attached to counselling. "Many aren't comfortable saying they are taking up a counselling session. We already had a regular counselling mechanism where counsellors come to the campus. However, some students may feel uneasy about going to a counsellor's room with other students watching. This is precisely why YourDOST was launched," he said.

On the other hand, the institute is also strengthening its peer support network. The guidance and counselling team IIT-M called 'Mitr' has now been split into two wings -proactive guidance and reactive guidance. 'Saathi' the proactive wing of the campus involves around 250 student mentors involved in creating awareness and sensitizing students about overall well-being. It will also manage platforms to support enhancement of skills for personal and professional growth.

"Each of the 250 mentors have about 5 mentees, most of the mentees being first-year students as they are new to campus. Mentors will help resolve issues at the student level or suggest professional help if required," said Jain, adding that another level of mentors will cater to the seniors. Mitr which remains the other wing now deals with reactive mechanism where students help others deal with the aftermath of an issue or an incident or could also involve disciplinary action, said the student body.