The Health Department and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) will jointly launch a 24-hour helpline, DISHA (Direct Intervention System for Health Awareness)’, to help students combat problems arising out of examinations-related stress.

The services of the helpline will be available to students from March to May, on the toll-free number 1056. The number can be accessed at all hours from any part of the State, Health officials said.

The helpline will be accessible to students from 10.56 a.m. on March 6.

Trained counsellors have been employed to help students manage all stress-related problems during exams and also handle suicide prevention counselling. The helpline has been devised in such a manner that, if required, the calls may be transferred to psychiatrists in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi or the counselling centres attached to them.

Mental stress often manifests as physical problems during exam time in many children and some of them find themselves unable to write exams. There are also children who find themselves too nervous to face exams due to acute mental stress.

Reliability

The NRHM has undertaken this project as many of the counselling services are not reliable or the counselling given by them has been found not effective. Counselling services are not available in remote areas and the posts of counsellors and psychiatrists continue to be vacant in many government hospitals.

“We have trained 24 counsellors to handle the calls and six psychiatrists from Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi have shown interest in associating with the project. The service can handle 30 calls at a time and the call centre is being managed from the Technopark,” a senior Health official said.

The helpline is being supported by the departments of Education, Social Justice and Local Self Government.

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