Aalisu – Paalisu (Listen & Nurture)

Campus Counselling is a total Mental Health Program offered to all; both students and faculty to reach a state of Well- being.

Objectives

Unlike academic exercises and related intervention programmes, predictability of Mental- health issues is low. Incidents and happenings when analysed after the events pointed invariably to the fact that the occurances could have been averted only if the students could have had the opportunity to speak and share their concerns. To Counter this need a regular on campus counselling program “Aalisu – Paalisu” was envisioned. The main objective was to convey to students and faculty that a “Strong Support System” was in place to counter their problems.

 

Context

A Wide range of variables affect and enhance a student’s academic performance. Wherever assistance was required, there were agencies to offer help and guidance. Whereas, issues that were indirectly affecting a student’s well-being had to be tackled by an agency that was totally proficient with Socio-Psycho dynamics of life.

Class teachers and mentors (with the exception of those who taught psychology) could not do justice in offering help due to paucity of time and an in- depth knowledge of human exigencies. Also, students hesitated to approach authority figures with their non-academic problems, either due to contextual familiarity or being apprehensive of their privacy.

The Solution was thus to bring on Counsellors, who were on campus and yet not authority figures.

Practice

The faculty from the Department of Psychology have offered counselling services to students in the past and continue to do so to this day. Due to the reasons mentioned above, counsellors from TRI (Training and Initiative Institute )were brought on board from August 2018.

They are on campus twice a week during the working hours. At the beginning of each term, circulars are sent to all classes about their availability. To date, 160 hours are recorded in the Log Book.

Introductory sessions to both students and faculty consisted of these topics.

  • Improved students- Teacher engagement
  • Assertiveness Training
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Education and ‘Career related challenges’
  • Managing common barriers that hindered academic performance
  • Recognizing and addressing convert erotic attention from Authority figures.

A Combination of factors i.e, knowledge of what counselors can do for them and being referred to by the Principal, faculty and peers, students and a few faculty members came in to the counselling centre for guidance. Sessions lasted between 45-60 minutes and the counsellors used many models for therapy, predominantely the Rogerian (person- centered) and Cognitive Behavioural, Intervention Strategies.

This exercise is focused entirely on one of our mission-vision goals- “EMPOWER” which also aligns with the NEP 2020’s thrust to strengthen the Higher Education Institutions with confident and competent Learners.

Evidence of Success

Given the sensitive nature of the counselling process, which involves Impressionable Youngsters and ‘Confidential’ issues, hard copies of Testimonials or feed-back forms could not be considered. Nevertheless, the counselors, during the follow up sessions have noted the following aspects in their Journals. Almost all the members who obtained counselling, came for follow up sessions willingly and shared their success stories; the only difference was the time factor. Some took longer and intensive sessions. Resolution was seen in the following areas: –

 

Academic

Optimism, Presentation Skills, Students- Teacher Interactions, Healthy Assertiveness, Memory, Test and Examine performance career goals.

 

Non-Academic

  • Relationship with family, friends and peers
  • Anger Management
  • Realistic Goals
  • Understanding Cultural Restraints
  • Clarity in Romantic Relationships
  • Causes of Depression
  • Health, Diet, & Exercise
  • Anxiety (panic attacks)
  • Suicide Ideation
  • Awareness of Sexual predators in Digital Spaces

Problems Encountered

Initially two challenges had to be met:

(1) Students did not want to be seen approaching the counselling center either by their teachers or peers. In response, an exclusive room was allotted in the top most floor away from the populous corridors.

(2) The faculty of the department of Psychology had to manage these sessions with their regular class hour and administrative responsibilities. In response, two external counsellors were brought in for regular hours on campus.

(3) Most often, when problems are imperative, students prioritise counselling sessions over their regular class hours. But, after the immediate pressure is lifted off, they find it difficult to give up their class hours, even though the follow-up sessions are as important as the initial ones. Hence, the mentors and other faculty members have requested the time table committee to allot free hours for counselling or other Recreational Activities suitably.