The University Grants Commission (UGC) has prepared draft guidelines mandating the creation of dedicated cells in colleges and universities having mental health counsellors to help students tackle academic and peer pressure, stress, and depression.
Under the guidelines, which are likely to be released for public feedback on Tuesday, these cells will also be expected to maintain separate records of students appearing to be “more vulnerable and stress-prone”.
“This way the dropout rates can also be checked. Subsequent interventions can be designed accordingly,” according to the guidelines – “Promotion of Physical Fitness, Sports, Students’ Health, Welfare, Psychological and Emotional Well Being”.
“Every higher educational institution shall have a Students Services Centre (SSC) responsible for dealing with and managing the problems related to stress and emotional adjustment. It shall have the standardized, systematic arrangements within the relevant provision of Ordinances to provide requisite support to students, especially from rural backgrounds, female students, students from divergent cultural backgrounds, and students with special needs,” the guidelines read.
UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said, “The main objective of these guidelines is to promote physical fitness and sports activities among students, inculcate a positive attitude and develop a supportive network of students. These are essential to strengthen the mental well being of students to safeguard themselves against different kinds of stress, pressure and behaviour issues they face.”
Recognising that students entering universities are often removed from their comfort zone for the first time in their lives, the guidelines urges upon the authorities of higher education institutions to avoid taking punitive measures to the extent possible and take the help of professionals such as psychological counsellors to handle “deviant behaviours”.
“The HEIs must respect linguistic, religious, cultural and social diversity and accordingly ensure having counsellors with efficient linguistic skills to impart services to students and teachers. Special care may be taken for LGBT students,” the guidelines add.