-Author Dr Ajeenkya D Y Patil is the Chancellor of Ajeenkya DY Patil University and Chairman of D Y Patil Group
Observed on October 10 every year, World Mental Health Day raises awareness of mental health issues across the globe and mobilises efforts in support of the same. The Day also provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on these health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental healthcare a reality for people worldwide.
Several institutions are focusing on diagnostic criteria by taking a broader approach to address physical, emotional and interpersonal well-being of students. Counselling, group sessions, workshops, mental health awareness campaigns are being introduced in colleges across the country to promote good mental health among students. Many colleges have also deployed ‘mental health soldiers’ to provide counselling and also report vulnerable cases to teachers. Professional therapists are also available in colleges to help students speak their mind when in stress.
In the field of education, India records 53% students who suffer from depression and mental health issues. They attribute these to peer pressure, tough syllabus and parental expectations. According to the Mental Health Survey 2015-16, 10.6% mental morbidity is evident among those aged 18 and above. However, academic institutions are doing every bit to ensure that students lead a healthy life.
In this competitive world, by use of various techniques and programmes, educational institutions can ensure that stress and depression among the younger members of the society can be cured. In many colleges across metros, art therapy is being introduced that help students switch off from problems and focus on creating or playing. Educational institutions are also encouraging students to start their own band and perform on fests, inter-collegiate festivals, as music can be a great stress-buster.
Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is another co-curricular activity that has been introduced by several institutions across the country. It is a form of creative therapy which encourages people to use body movements to relieve stress, improve concentration and cognition, and thereby achieve emotional well-being. Yoga and meditation have also been made mandatory or a part of extra-curricular activity in schools and colleges of the country to help students’ battle stress-related issues. For example, the University Grants Commission has asked all recognised universities in the country to start offering yoga and meditation lessons on campus. Under this, the universities are also expected to generate awareness about healthy diets, drugs and substance abuse, benefits of exercise and promote communal harmony.
In a 2016 survey of 200,000 professionals employed across 30 Indians firms, reported 46% people suffering from extreme stress due to increased work pressure. Corporates too have been engaging in activities that is promoting good mental health among its employees. From stress management activities being made mandatory in firms, to providing counselling assistance and career management – they are leaving no stone unturned. McKesson, a healthcare company ensures good mental well-being for its employees and their families. As part of their programme, they have included mental health assessments, web-based resources including a wellness portal, telephonic and face-to-face counselling, and several wellness events and activities supported through their Champions network.
Holistic approaches are being taken at every step of the way by educational institutions and organisations to ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are free from mental health issues. More than 67% employees across various corporates in the country are learning new life skills at work which have strengthened their self-confidence. Human Resource department across companies are introducing Happiness Managers who identify people with depression or stress and provide them with opportunities to alleviate stress. Firms are constantly looking for employees who are mentally, physically fit and productive.