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Monday, July 10, 2017

IITs chart out wellness path for students; 24-hour helpline on cards TNN

IITs chart out wellness path for students; 24-hour helpline on cards

 | Jul 10, 2017, 05.56 AM IST
KOLKATA: While the IITs have been churning out world-class engineers, most of them with high IQs, are they emotionally strong enough? The high rate of depression, which often leads to suicides by IIT students, had alerted the Union ministry of human resources development that had asked all the IITs to put their heads together to chart out a course of "wellness" for the community.

The first workshop with this intent was held at IIT Kharagpur this week to brainstorm and introduce innovative programmes in their curriculum aimed at promoting human excellence. 

The IIT perspective was presented by IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and IIT Gandhinagar. Experts from NIMHANS and TISS Mumbai and several industry experts tried to understand the problems of students at hand.

"Our aim is not to pick their weaknesses but encourage their inner strengths. They are brilliant students whose problems are unique. We need to give them relief from unnecessary and imaginary stress elements. So, we need unique solutions too,"said Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, director of IIT Kharagpur at the workshop. 

The workshop has thrown up ideas, including a 24-hour helpline for students, an orientation/induction programme and academic curricula update. 

Several such workshops will be organised before a structure is arrived at but even before that IIT Kharagpur is introducing four programmes for its undergraduate students from this academic session, starting August. While the first year students will have an induction programme helping them to settle with campus life, the second-year students will have an assimilation session where they will understand the IIT system better. Once in third year, the students will have re-orientation sessions and finally in third year they will go through a de-induction programme to make them ready for life outside campus.

IIT-BHU has introduced an induction programme as well while IIT Bombay has collaborated with TISS for a counselling helpline. Faculty members across IITs felt that the issues faced by undergraduate and postgraduate students are not the same. 

At IIT Kharagpur, the students' councils will now have representation of four categories of students — women, PhD, postgraduate and undergraduate — from every department who will be further represented by a council member from each category. "This will ensure that the students from every department get to channelize their worries and problems to the institute administration. Further, students counselling will also include services such as career development and students' activities to encourage students to opt for professional help for conscious health and wellness activities," Chakraborty said. 

IIT Bombay has developed a detailed questionnaire to analyse students' mental health. IIT Madras has developed reactive and proactive programmes called Mitra and Saathi respectively.