Stung by a string of distress cases of children in their early teens, the Department of General Education has stepped in with a round-the-clock telecounselling service targeting students.
The service is being offered under the Career Guidance and Adolescence Counselling Cell of the department.
“Students, especially those in their early teens, seem to be under a lot of stress with the anxieties emanating from the pandemic and the resultant lockdown. As such, they seem to be having unpredictable outbursts and extreme reactions to even minor issues,” says C.M. Azeem, State coordinator, Career Guidance and Adolescent Counselling Cell.
The influx of expatriates having lost their jobs adds to the already fragile emotional state of their children as they fear that the uncertainties emanating from their parents’ joblessness might spoil their plans for higher studies and by extension their career choices.
Counsellors associated with Souhrida Clubs functioning in schools under the cell have been roped in for the project. They are faculty members within schools trained in counselling by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and the Child Development Centre at the Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College.
“We have created a pool of 15 such counsellors in every district for addressing the concerns of students and even their parents. The mobile numbers of the counsellors available in each district will be published,” said Mr. Azeem. These counsellors will handle issues they could address while those with more serious problems will be referred for institutional assistance for further follow-up through the district child protection unit or the child welfare committee concerned.
“We are planning to run the project till the reopening of schools. The project was launched on Tuesday and depending on the kind of response we may enlist more counsellors, if need be,” says Mr. Azeem.
This is for the first time that the cell is offering such a counselling service at a time other than exams. The cell has been operating a centralised help desk for assuaging exam-related anxieties through counselling during SSLC and higher secondary exams for some years now.