Kota: A help desk dedicated to coaching students received 373 complaints in two months since its launch here in September and those suffering from depression were provided professional counselling and medical help, officials said.
Several steps were taken by the Kota administration in September following a spurt in alleged suicides by Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and NEET aspirants studying at the coaching centres here.
Among the various measures taken to ensure a stress-free environment, students in coaching centres were exempted from routine tests for around a month and noted motivational speakers conducted sessions with students.
Officials said the the Students’ Help Desk is constantly been working with JEE and NEET aspirants in informal ways while identifying cases that are of concern.
Of the total 373 complaints received in September and October, 35 were related to stress and depression, which were addressed by professional counsellors, ASP Chandrasheel Thakur told PTI.
Other complaints were mostly related to fee refund, poor quality of food at hostel mess, social media posts and unwelcome calls, Thakur, also in-charge of the Students’ Help Desk, said.
The coaching hub reported 26 suicide cases so far this year. Majority of these suicides occurred in paying guest rooms or hostels, exposing the gross lapses in enforcement of guidelines issued by high-level committees and monitoring by local authorities.
No suicides by coaching students were reported for almost two months.
On September 18, a 16-year-old NEET aspirant from Uttar Pradesh allegedly ended his life by consuming poison. The next such incidents were reported in November end when two coaching students, both NEET aspirants, hanged themselves in their respective rooms at different hostels in a span of 3 days, taking the toll to 26.
Meanwhile, a psychological counselling centre was made functional on September 10 at the New Medical College Hospital to address mental health related concerns of coaching students, however general patients also visit the centre for treatment, he added.
“The centre has extended psychological counselling to around 400 patients, most of them coaching students,” Dr B S Shekhawat, the centre’s in-charge and additional principal of Government Medical College Kota, told PTI.
“At least 35 students with mental health issues were referred by the district administration. They were provided with professional counselling and additional treatment if required. Meanwhile, a follow-up support system to help these students develop coping strategies is also underway,” he added.
Furthermore, joint teams of the district administration and health department, each headed by an administrative service officer has been conducting health screening of students at the coaching centres and hostels in the city.
Medical teams visit the coaching centres and hostels twice a week and conduct health screening of the students through questionnaires, Dr Jagdish Soni, Kota chief medical and health officer, told PTI.
“The medical teams visited 278 hostels since June this year and screened 8,617 coaching students, of whom 98 were identified with severe mental health issues,” Soni said, adding that most of them resumed normal life after going through professional counselling while 13 of them still require psychiatric treatment.
Over two lakh students move to Kota annually to prepare for competitive exams such as the JEE for engineering and NEET for admission to medical colleges.