Chennai: Tamil Nadu government is evolving a huge mass contact initiative for early detection and intervention in cases of campus frustration, even as politicians got busy playing the blame game in the Neet fiasco that broke hundreds of young hearts and led to the suicide of talented Anitha.
"This seems a critical stage for us and we must quickly get prepared so that such tragedies (like Anitha's) do not happen again. A comprehensive plan is getting ready for the early identification and intervention in the cases of frustration and depression among the students, particularly after the examination results", said state health secretary Dr J. Radhakrishnan.
104 toll free counselling facility strengthened
“Already the 104 toll free service has been strengthened to provide counselling and we have district level counselling facility but realise that there is a need to go to the grassroots”.
There are 3,500 medical seats in the TN colleges and each seat has multiple aspirants, some of whom could end up in depression or descend into even more dangerous depths. “We cannot afford more tragedies. We must act now and we will”, said the senior IAS officer, who was at the fulcrum of the post-tsunami rehab efforts in the worst-hit Nagapattinam as the district collector in December 2004.
Recalling the tsunami experience, Dr Radhakrishnan said the district administration had then identified early enough the emerging danger of post-disaster depression in the fishing community that not only lost many lives but also suffered huge livelihood depletion. “Counselling by our staff and NGOs helped about 80 per cent of the survivors to slowly limp back to normalcy while some 20 per cent needed focused attention. Finally, only about three per cent of the population there required psychiatric intervention. We could avert a huge socio-economic tragedy evolving out of that tsunami disaster because of this early intervention by way of community counselling”, Dr Radhakrishnan told Deccan Chronicle.
Claiming that shortage of professional counsellors and psychiatrists will not be allowed to hamper the gigantic project, he said teachers would be given crash-courses of a couple of weeks in staggered hours to help them quickly identify students slipping into depression. In coordination with the school health department, the teachers would be trained to handle such cases with care and sensitivity, while involving the concerned families utilising the facilities. “Not only the students but also elders in the family may require counselling. Where ever necessary, we will refer the cases to professional counsellors and psychiatrists”, said Dr Radhakrishnan, adding that the state at present has qualified psychiatrists in the headquarters hospitals in 25 out of the total 32 districts.