Hola freshies! First of all, a hearty welcome to the family of IIT Madras! Getting into an institute of national eminence (NIRF #1 for the fifth time in a row this year, no less), an amazing campus teeming with greenery and wildlife, an astounding library, professors with mind-blowing profiles, endless opportunities in sports and extra-curriculars seems like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Your first month will be a whirlwind, building new friendships, making your way through the maze of a campus and getting lost quite a few times, new professors and courses, and being bombarded with immense information through numerous fundaes of the myriad clubs here.
During this period of transition, it is easy to feel overwhelmed while handling different avenues of change. This institute is one huge working mechanism, whose cogs (a.k.a. students) keep running endless races – races of perfection, joy, excellence; and of which you are an integral part now. Being in an academically challenging institute that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and demands you to function at your fullest capacity, is easier when you have robust mental health to support your progress. Prioritising your mental well-being is of utmost importance, as it facilitates your work-life balance and helps you lead an enriched college life. To make these processes smoother and to help out students, IITM has sturdy mechanisms that provide proactive, retroactive, professional and career guidance facilities, enabling holistic student empowerment and well-being.
The Wellness Community Centre of IITM consists of various bodies that provide multi-faceted assistance to students to strengthen their mental well-being and solve their grievances.
SAATHI, the proactive body of IITM, has multi-pronged aims of student self-growth, well-being and raising awareness on different issues concerning students. Saathi is a student group, consisting of seniors who facilitate a hassle-free transition into the IITM world for you. It conducts four annual programs as well as year-round events, sessions, informal gatherings, workshops aiming at mental well-being and self-care, lectures, and activities to enhance gratitude, positivity, empathy, etc.
Programs under SAATHI:
§ Student Mentorship Cell
Getting quality guidance in the initial phase of college life always helps to sort things out. The Student Mentorship Cell provides mentoring support, armed with 150+ mentors and 10+ department-wise heads to help you out and solve any grievances that you have. Every fresher is assigned a SAATHI mentor. SAATHI Mentors are seniors who are the go-to people whenever you have any troubles, issues, concerns, discussions to share with, or simply to rant to when life gets a tad dramatic. You can approach your mentor for any doubts, queries or questions that you have regarding academics, assignments, professors, insti life – basically anything under the roof.
§ Immersion Program
To get yourself comfortably settled in the campus and get a glimpse of all clubs, student organizations, events and fests, SAATHI’s Immersion Program (both for UG and PG) is the perfect place to begin your insti journey, along with new friends and fun activities. You can experience varied aspects of insti through nature walks, Charcha with Director, Open Stage, Zumba and more. Stay tuned!!
§ Acad Buddy
Initially, it can be overwhelming to cope with the challenging academic environment that IITM provides. Acad Buddies are seniors who help freshers in their academic subjects. Whichever course you find a bit difficult to understand or struggle with, the Acad Buddies guide you through it. You can also avail paid tutoring classes through this program. The Buddies help you to seamlessly transition into the academic sphere of IITM.
§ Hobby Buddy
Apart from academics, IITM also provides excellent avenues and opportunities in various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and sports. It is always fun to connect with others who share the same interests as you, right? Hobby Buddy is a program that enables you to form easy friendships with people with similar hobbies, transcending the elements of language, region, branch and so on.
Apart from these annual programs, SAATHI also conducts a range of exciting events for freshers like the Freshie Treasure Hunt, Ice Breakers, workshops and talks by esteemed personalities related to mental health and life skills development.
The retroactive student and faculty framework of MITR consists of the MITR student team and MITR Department Faculty Coordinator. It abides by the motto ‘no one in the campus should be unattended in their emotional distress’. Providing emotional support and peer counselling to the students in their time of need, and looking after their emotional well-being, is the prime aim of MITR members. All MITRs are equipped with basic counselling skills. Sometimes it is hard to open up to counselling professionals older than us, in which case, MITR’s peer counselling facilitates burden-free opening up and sharing.
Along with counselling for students in distress, MITR conducts elaborate periodic mental health surveys and events in collaboration with other bodies of IITM based on specific needs of the students. The surveys are all-comprehensive, taking into account repetitive issues, constructive feedback/suggestions on various programs and initiatives, encouraging students to reach out for themselves or their friends, etc. MITRs are available in almost all departments and hostels. Remember, help is always just a call or a text away.
3. WELLNESS CENTRE
The IITM Wellness Centre is a framework of licensed mental health professionals. When things get difficult, when you feel yourself struggling, you can avail these facilities by simply walking into the DOST Office, 2nd floor or scheduling a session via email with trained professionals. All sessions are strictly confidential, so you can open up without any inhibitions.
The Wellness Centre provides the services of counselling and psychotherapy for students. As per situational demands, coordination and training among different stakeholders is also available. Students can avail the services of two visiting psychiatrists in the Institute Hospital through a scheduled appointment.
§ Student Counselling
We deal with different stresses during our insti life. Whether it is academic pressure, troubles in relationships (familial, with friends/partner, professional), or dealing with feelings of depression, overwhelmingness, anxiety, and the pressure of decision-making; counselling is available on all fronts.
The Wellness Centre coordinates with different spheres of Consulting Psychiatrists at the Institute Hospital, Faculty volunteers, student volunteers and student mentors, Administration, Wardens and hostel offices and Family members (parents and guardians) ONLY if the student’s specific needs demand it, and with their consent.
Initiatives such as the Wellness Marathon and Barefoot Training, different workshops and training sessions are carried out in collaboration with other wellness bodies like SAATHI and MITR.
Year-round programs like support groups, skill development sessions, mental health sensitization sessions, career guidance and mental health surveys are carried out. Freshers receive orientation to mental health facilities, resources and wellness bodies present on campus.
Peer support groups are formed in the MannMeet initiative, where groups of students come together and share their simultaneous journeys, experiences and insights in solidarity with life.
§ Wellness Orientation
To provide awareness about all existing mental health facilities on campus, facilitate access to resources, and increase the participation of students in mental health events, a holistic orientation program is organised for the freshers.
· The Team:
The Wellness Centre Team consists of four licensed clinical psychologists and one counselling psychologist. Adding to that, there are two visiting psychiatrists in the institute hospital. Any of the team members can be reached through call, mail or chat. Their contact information is available on the official website of the Wellness Community Centre.
4. YOUR DOST
IITM has collaborated with the external counselling agency, YourDOST so that students can avail maximum benefits. Students can opt for a chat session, tele-counselling, and online or face-to-face counselling sessions. YourDOST also collaborates with other bodies to organise programs on specific occasions such as International Yoga Day, World Drug Day, etc.
Apart from these official bodies, ChintaBAR, an independent organisation of IITM engaging in discussions on socio-political issues, conducts reading and discussion sessions and film screenings addressing mental health issues and enhancing mental well-being.
Mail – www.wellnessiitm.com
Wellness Centre helpline – 04422578521
YourDOST helpline (24/7) – 04448136222
Hospital helpline (24/7) – 04422578888
Security helpline (24/7) – 04422579999
Some time-tested tips:
o Never, ever, hesitate to seek help. Always remember, help is just a text or call away.
o Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back, indulge in some me-time and hobbies, and channel your anxiety into fun or peaceful avenues.
o Reaching out to family, friends and professionals in times of distress always helps. Whatever it is, talk it out.
o Last but the most important – live and enjoy your time here fully – these are some of the most memorable years of your life!
Edited by Ashita Anil