Nurturing Minds and Shaping Hearts: The Changing Face of Education
In a concerning trend, academicians are reporting worry over the rising number of students seeking mental health support, while their approach for academic excellence has taken a back seat. This sudden growing demand for such support has sparked dialogue among academicians, highlighting the growing importance of addressing student well-being in the higher educational sector. At present, the students are challenged with the academic demands of a globalised world to the emotional toll of 24/7 connectedness through technology adoption. Parental conflicts, peer pressure, difficulties in coping with price hike and the prolonged effect of pandemic are other observed reasons. As the need for addressing mental health issues upsurges in educational settings, educators need to be trained with innovative ways to address this shift to ensure that students receive the support they need to excel academically and thrive emotionally.
This alarming trend has been gaining momentum over the years, prompting institutions to reassess their approach to student well-being. Today there is a growing demand for academicians to think beyond the confines of textbooks. They need to be influential mentors who inspire and guide students to conquer life’s complexities. They need to play a pivotal role in nurturing their students’ personal growth and well-being. It is highly essential to develop strategies that are capable of crafting classroom environments that are not just conducive to learning but also to ensure emotional safety.
According to the latest World Happiness Index for 2023, India finds itself ranked at the 126th position among 146 countries. Even the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) reports highlights Suicide as the one of the leading causes of death among young people. All these indicate the necessity of facilitating the emotional needs of the students along with intellectual growth. To address this shift in priorities, colleges and universities need to implement training programs to equip professors with the tools and knowledge to provide mental health support to their students.
In a pressing development in the realm of higher education, concerns have been raised regarding the student-to-counselor ratio and the availability of counseling services on a full time basis. Moreover, students are advocating for the inclusion of minimum gender representation when selecting school and college counselors. These demands come at a pivotal moment for educational institutions as they tackle critical issues impacting student well-being and support systems. Even state government measures are essential to facilitate and monitor the progress.
Rigorous research is also highly essential to provide adequate data, insights, and evidence that can support the development of tailored solutions, support mechanisms, and effective policies to enhance students’ mental health. Academicians and scholars need to embark on in-depth research initiatives to understand the root causes of this paradigm shift. Such investigations can shed light on societal, technological, and cultural changes that have led to an increased need for mental health support. Also, through effective research endeavors, viable solutions can be developed to address the evolving needs of students and educational institutions. Such studies can suggest novel approaches to mental health support beyond the existing counseling services, and enable innovative teaching methods that prioritise holistic well-being.
Juby Thomas is an Indian Social Scientist, Author, and Academician. Currently working as a professor at the department of Media Studies, Kristu Jayanti College, Bengaluru. She can be contacted at: www.drjubythomas.in