A circular was sent to principals for setting up such centres two years ago

Two years ago, the Directorate of Collegiate Education (DCE) had sent a circular asking all colleges to establish counselling centre on campus to handle students facing psychological or behavioural problems.

Pointing out that instance of students under stress committing “mistakes” and then attempting to commit suicide when “punished” had come to the notice of the government, the DCE had written to principals of all government and government-aided colleges to appoint a senior member of the faculty as student counsellor. The contact number of such counsellors should be made available to students enabling them to contact him/her when in need, the principals were told.

The colleges were also asked to form a disciplinary committee take action on students misbehaving in the campus. “Though two years have passed, not many colleges seem to have followed the guidelines”, says psychiatrist Dr. C. Ramasubramanian. Expressing serious concern over the murder of the principal of a private engineering college in Tuticorin, he said such acts were not outcome of sudden provocation. “Parents or teachers must have failed to notice behavioural changes in the students. Timely intervention by way of counselling can avert such incidents.”

Waking up to the issue, Madurai district administration has taken an initiative to introduce the concept in colleges. “A meeting of Principals of Arts/Science colleges was convened recently to work out the modalities. It has been decided to identity teachers in each of the college who would undergo training on counselling. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) has agreed to extend its expertise in training the teachers,” said Dr. Ramasubramanian, who is also the State coordinator of District Mental Health Programme in Madurai. When contacted, Madurai Collector L. Subramaniam said two rounds of meetings were held with principals of at least 50 colleges. The training of teachers would commence in November and the process of establishing the centres could start a couple of months after that.

“The principals are of the view that there is no forum in the campus to handle students with psychological problems or showing abnormal behaviour. Many students have pre-conceived notions of various issues and counselling can change their attitude” he said.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National