Students at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other top institutions may soon get regular stress-busting and counselling sessions alongside classes, as part of a national plan to check suicides.
The human resource development (HRD) ministry under Kapil Sibal is set to launch India's first such initiative soon.
The new plan will cover every centrally funded technical institution including the IITs, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs).
While isolated suicides have dogged the IITs for decades, the number of suicides has increased steadily the past few years. Since 2008, at least 33 students across IITs have killed themselves.
Several of them were under treatment for psychological ailments, but hardly any received regular treatment at the IITs, HRD ministry sources said.
"The sad thing is that even our premier institutions have failed to provide the kind of counseling and psychological help and therapy that students need in high stress situations," a senior official said.
The blueprint of the new initiative finalised by a panel set up by Sibal under IIT Kanpur chairman M Anandakrishnan proposes creation of a central empowered committee to monitor the implementation of the strategy apart from dramatic institutional changes, government sources have told HT.
Each institution will have full-time counselors and psychiatrists just like top universities abroad. Institutions will need to hold regular counselling sessions and encourage students to seek assistance from their team of specialists without fearing any stigma.
To ensure that institutions implement and sustain the plan, the Anandakrishnan panel has recommended that the HRD ministry fund 80% of the additional expenses that the strategy will involve. The school concerned will have to foot the remaining 20%.