IIT Madras holds workshop on Mental Wellness and Stress Management for institutes in South India

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Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) hosted a workshop on ‘Mental wellness and Stress Management’ today (12thMay 2023). Sessions were held on topics such as Governance reforms, ways of Yoga and Meditation, Stress Management, Experiential Session, Importance of Communication-Parents, Psychiatry, Counselling, and Accessibility, among others.

IIT Madras launched last week an initiative to conduct ‘Wellness Survey for Students, faculty and staff’ in the institute as a holistic means to support wellbeing in the institute.

IIT Madras conducted this regional workshop covering educational institutions, industry and humanitarian organisations, under the aegis of Ministry of Education, Government of India. Directors, Deans, Chairman Council of Wardens from institutes such as IITs, IISc, IISER, NITs, central universities, private colleges and representatives from industries, and humanitarian organisations were present for the workshop.

Speaking on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing – an integrated approach,’ Ms. Shilpa Prabhakar Satish, IAS, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “We have been recommending to all institutions to conduct programs on students mental health. We are sure these programs by IIT Madras will be forerunners. We too in the Government feel mental health is an integrated issue and Wellness is not a speciality to be taken care of by one department alone but requires an integrated approach.”

Ms. Shilpa Prabhakar Satish said, “There has been gaps in the treatment. For all India, it is found that 82.4 per cent of individuals with common mental disorder and 87.5 per cent of those with severe mental disorder do not receive treatment due to several factors. It is not just accessibility but also affordability and the stigma attached besides awareness....There is a shortage of mental health specialists in India, be it with the Government or Private Sector, with the Ratio being 0.7 specialists to one lakh of population. Availability of Specialists is a concern, not for Tamil Nadu though, as we have one of the best mental health institutes here and we do have psychiatry departments in all medical colleges in the State.”

Highlighting the importance of the workshop, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “This is one of the most important activity we need to look at, specifically the post-COVID reboot of campuses, we are  finding several important challenges and how we address the concerns of students in areas like socialization...We should evolve some very good practices that every one of us can take forward to ensure that every educational institution in the country address the problems of stress and mental wellness comprehensively. We will be presenting that we (IIT Madras) has learned and put in place and open it for debate”

Prof. V. Kamakoti, added, “One of the important things we had learnt when analyzing unfortunate events on campus is that Happiness is a collective responsibility. There is the involvement of Administration, faculty, counsellors, parents and the most important friends-network. Some of the support mechanisms we have developed include time-bound grievance redressal mechanism, listeners, Counsellor networks, Kushal Meetings, Helpline numbers for counselling support and helping improve your (students) counselling skills using an AI-based engine.”

Key speakers of the workshop include:

1.   Prof. K. Ramamurthy, Faculty, IIT Madras

2.   Prof. MS Sivakumar, Head, Dept of Applied Mechanics, and Former Dean (Students), IIT Madras

3.   Mr. Shiva Subramaniam, Founder-Director, Biomimicry Compass

4.   Swami Ishapremananda, Vivekananda Study Circle,

5.   Dr. M. Malaiappan, Director, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai

6.   Dr.Aswini Muthuswamy Consultant Psychiatrist, Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

7.   Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Founder, Sneha foundation, Chennai

8.   Dr.R. Padmavati, Director, SCARF India

9.   Mr. Srinivas Venkatram, Founder and CEO, Illumine Labs

10.  Dr Shrividya, Myndwell

Speaking earlier, Prof. Nilesh J Vasa, Dean (Students), IIT Madras, said, “The workshop consists of four different sessions covering various topics from Governance Reforms and Curricular modifications to Psychiatry and Counselling.”

Speaking on ‘Wellness Survey – Challenges and Expected Benefits,’ Prof. R. Sarathi, Coordinator, Wellness Program, IIT Madras, added, “The Wellness Survey, We have students across a broad spectrum, from 18 to 30-plus pursuing courses from B.Tech to PhDs. In a campus of more than 10,000 students, in the last one week alone, we have had one-to-one interactions with nearly 2,200 students on the Wellness Programs. We want to bring in each and every one of the student, which will enable us to find out what the students want. We want to assess the healthiness of the system.”


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