News : Students Keep 104 Helpline Ringing
Chennai, India, Jan 20, 2016 -- How do I improve my concentration? How many hours of sleep should I have? What food should I eat? And will the exams be easy after the floods? These are some of the questions counsellors at the State-run health helpine 104, have been grappling with, since they began their preparatory phase of counselling on January 7.
In the 12 days since, the helpline has received close to 2,000 calls from across the State, said B. Prabhudoss, head, marketing and hospital relations, GVK EMRI, which operates the helpline.
"This is around a 20 per cent increase from last year. The spike could be because the half-yearly exams were postponed and anxiety has built up since the floods," he said.
A majority of the calls — about 70 per cent — are from students, but the helpline also get calls from parents and teachers asking about how to support students at this time. A team of three psychologists, two doctors and 10 paramedics are on duty to take the calls, he said.
This year, a lot of the calls are from Chennai, from flood-affected students, said B. Elayaraja, a counselling psychologist at the helpline.
"Many of them are still traumatised and they are definitely more stressed out. They have watched their books being washed away and since schools were closed for over a month, they are finding studying a little more difficult and are worried about coping with the exams," he said.
One of the problems being seen now, said Shiva Prakash Srinivasan, a child psychiatrist associated with the Schizophrenia Research Foundation, is that children are finding it hard to adjust being back in school. "Having exams close by now does not help. We will probably see a spike in the stress levels closer to the exams and complaints and problems may increase, but children are resilient: they may even deal with it better than we expect them to," he said.
Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder of Sneha, suicide prevention centre said that the floods also seemed to have brought a sense of proportion to students and parents — "They are not giving as much importance to marks this time. The floods have re-jigged priorities for many people. We have not seen too many students getting stressed," she said. Also, explained Dr. Vijayakumar, the crisis seemed to have brought in a sense of community and cohesion. "People do not feel as alone as before and their natural resilience seems to have come to the forefront," she added.
What parents can do ahead of exams:
* Let your children study for regular hours, make sure they have adequate sleep and they eat properly
* Structure your child’s day – they should have enough physical activity, relaxation time and preparation time
* Relax – if the parents are relaxed, the children will be too. Even if the child scores lesser than expected, accept it and support the child
* Tell children that exams are a step in life and that they should do their best. They can come up in life if they continue learning and working
* Students or parents in need can contact 104 or SNEHA at 044-24640050 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, January 22, 2016