Creating Cells to Address Student Mental Health Issues: UGC Draft Guidelines

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has prepared draft guidelines requiring the creation of dedicated cells in colleges and universities with mental health counselors to help students cope with academic and peer pressure, stress and depression.

According to the guidelines, which are expected to be released for public comment on Tuesday, these cells will also have to keep separate records of students who appear to be “more vulnerable and prone to stress”.

“This way, dropout rates can also be checked. Subsequent interventions can be designed accordingly,” according to the guidelines – “Promotion of physical fitness, sports, student health, well-being, psychological and emotional well-being.”

“Every higher education institution should have a Student Services Center (SSC) responsible for addressing and managing issues related to stress and emotional adjustment. It shall have the standardized and systematic arrangements within the relevant provisions of the ordinances to provide the required support to students, especially from rural backgrounds, female students, students from divergent cultural backgrounds and students with special needs,” state the instructions.

UGC President, Mr Jagadesh Kumar said: “The main objective of these guidelines is to promote physical fitness and sports activities among students, inculcate a positive attitude and develop a supportive network of people. students. These are essential in strengthening the mental well-being of students to protect against the different types of stress, pressure, and behavioral issues they face.

Recognizing that students entering college are often taken out of their comfort zone for the first time in their lives, the guidelines urge authorities at higher education institutions to avoid punitive action where possible and to use professionals such as psychological counselors to manage “deviant behavior”.

“HEIs must respect linguistic, religious, cultural and social diversity and therefore ensure that they have counselors with effective language skills to provide services to students and teachers. Special consideration may be given to LGBT students,” the guidelines add.

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