Budding engineers at the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) can now get in-house psychological and related interventions at ‘Mitr’, a dedicated wellness centre set up on the campus recently.
College officials say most of their students come from varied backgrounds and regions, both from within India and abroad, and their initial interactions with fellow students would pose several challenges, besides the academic pressures of coursework.
Nandini Iyer, head, Department of Applied Sciences at CoEP, told The Indian Express, “Earlier, students would approach a faculty whom they could confide into or were comfortable talking to. But since this would often mean that there was presence of other fellow students or staffers, those in need would not find it private enough to open up.”
Set up at the Department of Applied Sciences, the faculty have chalked out five initiatives under the newly launched centre that will cater to many of the student needs during their undergraduate years. Even though CoEP students take one course per academic year in psychology during the four-year engineering course, there was no dedicated centre for students to reach out to.
The wellness centre will operate round-the-week and the psychology faculty will be available to all students. Besides, CoEP has also managed to rope-in three practising experts from the field who are associated with several hospitals in the city. They would be available on Saturdays.
Elaborating on some of the common problems shared by students, Kshipra Moghe, from the psychologist department, said, “There are a host of issues, ranging from adjusting to the new environment, stress and anxiety ahead of exams or placement sessions to relationships. But largely, cases are non-clinical in nature and are addressed within our capacities. In a positive development, in recent years, students, too, are beginning to refer, open up and seek help.”
Alongside regular counselling sessions, many of which, according to Moghe, are more in the form of ‘open conversation’, the other initiatives planned are ‘I Learn’, under which the faculty and student volunteers will undergo training in psychological aid.
All senior students from the second, third and fourth years will specially interact and mingle with the junior-most batch in the college, as part of ‘I Care We Care’ programme.
‘Open Space’ will be yet another forum where students will gather once every month and speak about anything to an audience, aimed at locating and interacting with like-minded fellow students on the campus.
Even though the number of undergraduates seeking help varies during the year, the faculty observe a surge ahead of major college events or examinations and placements.
As mental health still remain a taboo subject, the college hopes to carry out surveys and research in this field through ‘Insights’. The idea is to attempt to trace behavioural signs linked to student psychology leading to depression and other mental illnesses.