Does she like me? Will she reject me? What should I say to her? Several calls coming in to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) – helpline, are to do with relationship questions.
More than half the calls to the helpline, which started in July, come from adolescents and college-going students. Psychologists manning the line have a set of responsibilities which include listening to the distraught callers, talking to them and then helping them accept and understand the situation they are in.
“The first weapon is listening,” said Anuradha Karegar, who coordinates the line. “Then we come to the level of action. What are the ways of dealing with the situation? How do you accept the answer? We get them to see all sides.”
Other colleges in the city have different mechanisms to deal with emotional issues that students might face. While many have trained teachers’ to handle such problems, others have mentoring arrangements.
At Sathaye College in Vile Parle, officials are considering hiring a full-time counselor. “With so many troubling incidents happening, we are giving it a thought,” said principal Kavita Rege. The college has also trained some teachers and students are being counselled on an informal basis.
However, keeping a mechanism in place is only part of the process. Even if students are aware there is help at hand, not all are comfortable with appr-oaching an authority figure on their own. At St Andrew’s College, Bandra, class teachers double as mentors and regularly speak to students, sometimes just to listen to what they are going through. “The teachers might seek out the students or the students approach the teachers, it works both ways,” said Marie Fern-andes, principal of the college. “We also have a priest on campus who students can speak to for emotional guidance.” The tougher cases are referred to the psychology department.
At the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, student mentors help guide freshers on issues regarding substance abuse, low self-confidence, family or career concerns. If needed, cases can be referred to higher authorities.