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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anxiety can be contagious’ Reetika Subramanian, Hindustan Times Mumbai, February 18, 2011

Anxiety can be contagious’
Reetika Subramanian, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 18, 2011

First Published: 02:17 IST(18/2/2011)
Last Updated: 02:18 IST(18/2/2011)

Every time Smita Shinde, 18, a Class 12 commerce student, takes a stroll in the society garden or talks to her friend over the phone, her over-anxious neighbour lectures her on how her friends “will outdo her in the upcoming board exams if she continues to while away her time”. “Such neighbours fal
l under the ‘delete’ category and students should steer clear of this over-anxious lot,” said Dr Harish Shetty, social psychiatrist, who conducts workshops for board exam students on ‘How to deal with parents and over-anxious relatives’. Dr Shetty, who has been associated with students for the past 20 years, said that parents and relatives’ anxieties can be contagious and could have a negative impact on a vulnerable student.

“We screen clippings from Bollywood films, recite poems, narrate real life stories, and play interesting memory games, to make the children understand that their parents’ anger and anxiety is only a form of their love,” added Dr Shetty.

The spate of suicides in the city last year prompted Dr Shetty to organise a special workshop this year on ‘preventing suicides’.

Both students and their parents are encouraged to sit through the sessions.

“Optimism is the bottom line, while dealing with children who are bogged down by both, academic and societal pressure,” said Dr Shetty. “We explain the need for them to make it big in life, attend college, and have a girlfriend/boyfriend.”

Dr Anonna Guha, a sociologist and counsellor with Nrityanjali Education Services, has been organising daily non-academic workshops for stressed students. “We begin with breathing techniques and exercises, before moving on to instructing the students on organised study patterns,” said Dr Guha.

“During the two-hour session, we help prepare personalised time tables depending on everyone’s daily routine; encourage them to pursue their hobbies even during their exams; and most importantly, have a question-answer session, making sure that their minds are uncluttered,” she added. To reach out to parents, who feel stressed owing to their children’s disinterest towards their books, Dr Fabian Almeida, psychiatrist and counsellor, has outlined a plan, centered on audio-visual techniques.

“At our workshops, we use a mix of interesting visuals between lectures as well as, teach pranayams and asanas, to ensure a holistic development of the parents and children,” said Dr Almeida, who has

conducted more than a thousand workshops in a career spanning ten years.

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