Published: 19th June 2019
Death wish: Why JNUSU is desperately asking for more counsellors on campus
Kriti Roy, JNU's SSS Convenor has written to the school's Dean, demanding more counsellors and therapists to help the students
A few weeks ago, Rishi Joshua, a second-year MA Literature student from Jawaharlal Nehru University committed suicide. Rishi's body was found hanging in a reading room in the basement of the School of Language, Literature and Cultural Studies. Though there was no suicide note, it is believed that the student was allegedly suffering from depression.
Rishi's isn't an isolated case. Incidents of suicides and suicide attempts among the students in the university are not uncommon. But despite these, the university doesn't have enough and efficient counsellors to help the students solve their issues, says Kriti Roy, a JNUSU member. The School of Social Sciences Convenor, Kriti has now written to the school's dean to arrange regular counselling and therapy sessions for students by mental health professionals.
"Numerous students in the university have been suffering from severe anxiety, depression and several other mental disorders. This is affecting their academic and social interactions, which is pushing them towards extreme measures," reads the letter. Kriti herself has had students talk to her about their mental health issues. Following the same, she has written a number of letters to the SSS Dean and the University Vice-Chancellor, but apparently, none of those letters yielded a positive result.
"We have counsellors at the university health centres. But, for years, the students have been complaining that these counsellors are not very helpful and that they do not pay proper attention to their problems. Owing to this, many depend on therapy outside, but not everyone can afford it. There have been so many cases of suicides, suicide attempts, extreme depression and anxiety," says Kriti. "There are a lot of research scholars here, who spend most of their time alone. This triggers a lot of mental issues," she adds.
Even though there have been workshops organised, Kriti believes that there has to be an institutional mechanism to help the students. She also narrates a few incidents of people that she knows, who have fallen prey to mental illness. "I know people who have dropped semesters, attempted and committed suicide. A friend of mine missed a semester because she was on medication. She also had tendencies of self-harm. Another friend who was also depressed had gone missing for a while. The magnitude of the problem is very high," she adds.
Since the JNUSU wasn't allowed in the Board of Studies meeting this year, the union wasn't able to raise this issue formally. "On top of that, the dean never meets us. He doesn't come to his office too. The administration is least bothered about our issues," Kriti says.