With a view to providing free comprehensive counselling and guidance service to school pupils, the Department of Social Work of Bharathidasan University has established a ‘Child Guidance and Counselling Centre’ at its Khajamalai Campus in the city.The centre will come to the rescue of students in the age-group 4-17 years, with emotional and behavioural problems; learning difficulties and disabilities; scholastic backwardness; adjustment problems and even sexual problems. It will offer consultative and preventive intervention services to the students.

Speaking after inaugurating the centre, the Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University, M. Ponnavaikko underlined the need for imparting values to the children right from school days. The present-day environment and style of bringing up the children was not child-friendly, especially by the employed couples, he said citing a few examples. A good number of children at schools were in need of psychological support and counselling so as to shape their character.

The centre would, in co-ordination with the Education Department, impart training to the Headmasters and teachers, who, in turn, would apply the principle of counselling the pupils. The function also marked a day-long workshop on ‘School Mental Health.’

The Chief Educational Officer, K. Swaminathan, who delivered the key-note address hailed the University’s efforts towards school students’ character-moulding exercise. A large number of students needed counselling in facing several challenges, such as setbacks in academic achievement. Guided properly, children would develop a marked change in their behavioural attitude, he said.

The Assistant Professor of Department of Social Work, J.O. Jeryda Gnanajane Eljo, the resource-person of the centre, said that the current day complex life-style forced the students to adjust to situations. The centre would offer child-centred, school-oriented and family-focussed services. A team comprising psychologists, a psychiatrist, paediatrician, speech therapist, occupation therapist, besides social workers, would render the service.

The objective of the centre was to ensure psycho-social care to school students and enhance their school mental health through a proper evaluation of child-specific problem. Teachers and parents would also be properly sensitised to their responsibilities in handling such students. Individual counselling and group counselling would be given depending upon the type and nature of the problem of students.

The Professor and Head of Department of Social Work, P. Ilango also spoke.