This Pune-based college examined the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on students, teachers
To understand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of adolescent students, St Mira's College collaborated with TLLLF (The Live Love Laugh Foundation) in Bangalore through a series of focus group discussions.
Ten students, parents and teachers from the college volunteered to invest their time and share their experience of the pandemic to try and understand its impact on the mental health of adolescent students. The sessions were one hour long and were conducted online, where researchers from Connecting Trust, an NGO for suicide prevention asked questions to initiate the discussions and TLLF researchers observed.
Students from psychology specialisation, St Mira's, assisted in the documentation and note-taking to try and understand not just the 'on-field' process of research but also to give feedback to the college, to understand what its stakeholders are going through. The confidentiality of the participants was respected, enabling them to express their concerns and experiences freely.
The full-fledged Mental Well-being Program at St Mira's was initiated in 2019. Mental health Promotion, Prevention and Early intervention are three major arms of the program. A team of full time and visiting psychologists offer individual counselling sessions to all students in the college should they seek it. The college provides mandatory classroom awareness sessions, online support groups, group therapy sessions to raise awareness, empower students and encourage help-seeking. Also, there is an ongoing mentorship programme in the college ensuring that students have multiple and diverse contact points to reach out to.
Pooja Jain, Mental Well-being Program Coordinator & Counselling Psychologist, says, "Rising mental health concerns of students in India is a structural problem. If we want to promote the well-being of our students, then we need to see students not just as consumers of education but as active participants of society. It is time to see beyond just having a college counsellor and view the intersectionality of mental health."
Recalling the words of the revered founder Sadhu Vaswani who said, "Did you see him on the road?
"Did you leave him with the load?" the principal of St Mira's College, Dr Gulshan Gidwani feels, "Of what use is an education that does not make us sensitive to the loads that our young ones are carrying? While it is our responsibility as educators to pass on information and knowledge to them, it is as much our responsibility to help them lift their loads."