In the first concerted effort to address student suicides, members of the association of non-government colleges came together for a day-long session conducted by the psychiatry department of K.E.M Hospital on Monday.
About 90 representatives from different colleges attended the training session at Bhavans College in Andheri to help them understand adolescent problems and identify suicidal tendencies.
The session was not just a one-off meeting of principals, but an initiative that will result in an army of mentors on campus who will look into student issues.
“It is a three-phase process. We have now asked principals to go back to their colleges and identify student-friendly teachers, who we will train in the basic methods of identifying and counselling students. The teachers will train peer counsellors,” said Dr. Shubangi Parkar, head of psychiatry department at K.E.M.
The principals were trained in the ‘no suicide contract’ method whereby a student with suicidal tendencies is identified and counselled.
The mentor assures the student that together they will find a solution to his problems but until then, the student has to make a commitment that he will not do anything to harm himself.
Principals are very positive about the initiative and are determined to create their army of campus mentors.
“In a large country like ours with such a huge student population, counsellors alone cannot deal with all student issues. We have to double up as counsellors,” said S.G. Chitale, director of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, which runs four colleges in the city, including Bhavans College.
“A counsellor can only help a student who approaches him, but here students don’t approach counsellors and that is where we come in.”