In the light of an unrelenting rise in mental health issues a friendly approach towards mitigating them becomes immensely important. It is almost mandatory to bring a well-informed discussion about mental health to the fore. The silence and stigma must break, and we need to realize how real and tangible it is.
Through the years, IIT Bombay has been actively trying to be responsive to the calls of mental health awareness/action. One of Bandhu’s initiatives is its self-help website devoted to improving the emotional well-being of the students and inspiring them in dealing with various issues related to mental health, which emerged as a culmination of the same.
Resourceful Addition To The Existing Structure
Student Wellness Centre (SWC) has been under the spotlight when it comes to mental health issues and is involved in some good initiatives such as training mentors to be able to understand and deal with the mental health of their mentees. But the mental health of the students is still vulnerable, which is evident from the wellness test of the freshies. 10% of the students were in the red zone, meaning they need immediate counselling, 60% were in the yellow zone, whose condition was not so critical, hence support over chat, emails, and phone for venting out would suffice. Bandhu comes in to help such people and even those in the green zone (30%) who need support for self improvement.
How It All Started
Bandhu is the brainchild of the Class of 1992. It was when they met for their Silver Jubilee Reunion in 2017 that the idea sparked. The batch thought of giving back to the institute by focusing on initiatives that would enhance the lives of students at IIT Bombay and help them to achieve their dreams.
They spoke to students, professors, and counselors, and realized that life on campus had become far more complex than the life they witnessed in their time. Students have to juggle a lot: academics, PORs, interns, extra-curriculars, relationships, etc. As a result of this, they go through various ups and downs during their stay at IIT-B. Through Bandhu, a self-help website, they hope to support and inspire students to deal with their challenges positively. Bandhu will help enhance awareness of many concerning topics as well as provide tips and tools to deal with certain challenges.
“It is our belief that many issues, when tackled at the initial stages, can be overcome effectively before things go out of hand and a domino effect starts; Bandhu is our contribution to each student to discover themselves” — as quoted by alumni Vivek Mohile and Rekha Koita.
Bandhu has several initiatives planned to support the well being of the students. One of the initiatives is the self-help website which is finely designed to navigate students through different problems and guide them towards a solution. The following is a breakdown of what the website has to offer:-
Articles: The website has a collection of empowering articles in multiple languages to help students, depending upon their specific needs. The Articles have been categorized into various sub-sections:
- Transitioning to College helps freshmen get acquainted with the new institute life they have recently entered, and helps them deal with common hardships faced such as home-sickness, discrimination, language change, culture shock, peer pressure, internet addiction, etc.
- Academics provides assistance to make the process of overcoming academic issues easier. One can gain useful tips about Time Management, Procrastination, Fear of Failure, Exam/Placement Stress, etc.
- Mental Health This section deals with common mental health concerns and different ways to promote positive mental health, like relaxation techniques, grounding techniques, etc.
Apart from these, there are other helpful sub-sections like Relationships, Know Yourself Better, and Seek Help
Stories: This is a section that is a reservoir for the various stories associated with the lives of the students of IIT-B; an account of the problems that they have faced, and how they are overcoming them.
IITian Speak: A dedicated section having a repository of inspirational alumni journeys and spectacular experiences
Fun Quiz: This section has a multitude of interesting quizzes based on different issues, to tease your brain and to let you check out your everyday beliefs and habits.
The website is on its way to becoming more accessible to people comfortable with Hindi, Marathi, and Telugu
What Bandhu Plans To Do?
Bandhu plans to use the website as a launchpad for a large campus-wide initiative with various activities such as events/ workshops for students, gatekeeper training, etc. Lastly, Bandhu would be looking into ways of providing 24×7 support to students, over emails and chats.
- Bandhu has collaborated with Mood Indigo to organize fun talk shows, held an awareness campaign along with IITB Cult, partnered with Roots to showcase a talk on promoting Neuroscience through Music, and even held a digital well-being workshop on ‘Toxicity because of Tech.’
The manoeuvre aims to develop the existing network in the institute, incorporating replication of some processes which are being followed globally. For instance, it takes inspiration from Cornell University, which has a streamlined approach to mental health awareness, where they identify which stage of mental health issues people are in, advise them on whom to approach, and also normalize counseling/therapy.
Gatekeeper Training will be a process-driven tool, in which all the faculty and staff members, would be trained for sensitization: how to identify people with issues and the types of issues they are facing or to identify and deal with people who are hesitant in sharing their concerns. As the momentum builds, it is expected that everybody will go through the training.
It is the need of the hour to provide amicable attention to mental health-related problems. Bandhu is putting in appreciable efforts to extricate such difficulties from the lives of the students at IIT-B.
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