CHENNAI: All central government funded technical institutions (CFTIs) in the country, including the IITs, IIMs and NITs, have been advised to set aside Rs 50 lakh a year to provide counselling services and conduct activities to ensure the mental health of their students.
A task force, constituted by the ministry of human resource development to study the increasing occurrences of suicides among students enrolled at the IITs and other such campuses in the country, made the recommendation to Union human resources development minister Pallam Raju and minister of state Shas hi Tharoor earlier this week.
The task force, headed by professor M Anandakrishnan, designed a questionnaire for the CFTIs to assess the existing mental health needs, understand the magnitude of the problem and ascertain the resources. Of the 86 CFTIs asked to fill the questionnaire, only 26 responded. Of this, more than half do not have a full time counsellor and only 10 have scope for students to self-declare mental health problems.
Pallam Raju suggested that the counselling services could be made a component in the accreditation process and that special weightage be given to the provision.
The task force has suggested that the government set up an empowered committee on the lines of the Raghavan committee on ragging "as it cannot be assumed that they will be followed by all CFTIs with the same degree of rigour and seriousness".
The survey revealed that over the last two years 12 students committed suicide and 18 others attempted it. As many as 872 students have been referred for counselling in these institutions. Relationship issues, personal problems, mental stress and family problems were reported as reasons for the suicides.