A task force to address college students’ mental health issues

In a first, Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), the country’s largest body of mental health professionals, has formed a task force to tackle mental health issues of college-going students. As India is set to have a large population below 25 years by 2020, experts predict a spurt in cases of depression, anxiety, and suicides. Thus, the IPS thought that a focussed team on college mental health was the need of the hour.

The task force formed last week consists of three senior psychiatrists: Dr. Kersi Chavda and Dr. Avinash Desouza from Mumbai and Dr. Amrit Pattojoshi from Bhubaneswar. This was the same team that was part of the IPS task force on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community. Their work had eventually led to the IPS taking an official stand that homosexuality cannot be considered an illness.

“India is a young country. We are all set to have a huge population between the age group of 16 and 25. They struggle with increasing competition, internet, mobile addiction, drug use, and a constant tussle between traditional and modern. We are staring at an increased number of depression and suicide cases,” Dr. Chavda, chairperson of the task force on ‘college mental health’, said.

According to Dr. Chavda, they plan to organise seminars, discussions and meet parents and teachers.

Dr. Pattojoshi, who practises in Bhubaneswar and also teaches at Hi-Tech Medical College and Hospital, said, “The stance on homosexuality was historical. We hope to bring about similar positive and important changes in terms of tackling mental health issues of college-going population.”

“For example, we may try to include aspects of dealing with mental health issues in the curriculum,” he said.

Studies have shown that attending college can be stressful for many. A 2015 paper published in the Academic Psychiatry said that academic pressure together with stressors typical of starting and attending college may precipitate the onset of mental health and substance-use problems or exacerbation of symptoms.

Another study published in 2016 said that depression is common among university students in India and it has a detrimental effect on students’ psychosocial, emotional and interpersonal functioning, and academic performance.

“This age group has many expectations from life, often based on exposure to social media. The stress that results out of it leads to more intolerance, aggression, and frustration,” Dr. Pattojoshi said. He said their objective is to empower counsellors, psychologists, teachers, parents, and students to tackle these issues.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:13:54 PM |

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