A culture of cohesion to save young lives on campuses

Source– The post is based on the article “A culture of cohesion to save young lives on campuses” published in “The Hindu” on 18th April 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues related to development and management of education

Relevance– Campus suicides and distress among students

News– The newspaper reports about young students ending their lives is disturbing.

What are some facts and statistics about students ending their lives on campuses of higher education institutions?

During the 2018-23, 61 students passed away. During 2014-21, there were 122 cases in various higher education institutions.

Most students were from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). Marginalisation and deprivation are factors, but one also finds a wide spectrum of students.

What are the reasons for student distress at institutions of higher education?

Campuses have become large and impersonal spaces. Family support is reducing. There are more nuclear families now with working parents. They are unable to provide the kind of parenting and mentoring that joint families provide.

Individualism is pervasive in society. Early signs of emotional distress go unnoticed, unrecognized, and unaddressed.

Generally, institutions are in denial mode. They expect the situation to be dealt with by the parents. Students in emotional distress are advised to spend time with their families.

In higher education institutions, there is hardly any free and fair communication between students, their seniors, teachers, and the administration. Classroom interactions are confined to academics. It adds to the stress emotionally distressed students are already under.

Teachers don’t have the time, inclination and expertise to address any disturbing traits among their students. A highly formalised, standardised and hierarchical structure can never be conducive to promoting a congenial environment.

What are factors responsible for campus suicides?

Most campus suicides are attributed to academic pressure, family circumstances, personal reasons, different kinds of stress, financial distress, caste-based discrimination, and different forms of harassment.

Many of the sources of distress lie outside the purview of higher education institutions. They have genesis in the larger economic and societal contexts.

What is the contrast between counselling support for students in the USA and India?

Universities in the United States have dedicated counselling centres with a range of psychological services. They are accredited by the International Accreditation of Counseling Services.

They are manned by licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical therapists, mental health workers and social workers. The counsellor-to-student ratio is carefully established through careful analysis.

In contrast, the psychological counselling services in Indian campuses are limited to providing some physical space in a corner of the institution. They have a limited number of professionally trained psychologists and psychotherapists. There are hardly any standards.

What is the way forward to overcome the stress faced by students at campuses?

There is a need for counselling and therapies as curative measures for distressed students. It may be easy to strengthen and streamline.

It is critical to create an assimilative culture of cohesion and promote respect for academic and socio-economic diversity. Institutions must deter and curb all forms of discrimination.

There is a need to evolve a code of campus ethics prescribing standards and protocols of what can and cannot be discussed even in informal social settings. Social, economic, and cultural diversity on campuses add value. But, it should be sensitively nurtured and carefully harnessed.

Print Friendly and PDF