IITs devise wellness path for students

In order to promote the wellness of its students and help them blossom not only as successful engineers’ but also as strong emotional beings several IITs have come together to brainstorm and introduce innovative programs for human excellence.

To begin with a workshop was organised at IIT Kharagpur on promotion of wellness in IIT campuses on July 4, 2017. The workshop had sessions wherein perspectives of the IITs were presented by IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and IIT Gandhinagar, the last one representing the newer IITs. Experts from IIT Kharagpur, NIMHANS, TISS Mumbai and several industry experts delved deep into the campus life at the IITs and tried to find a solution.

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“Our aim is not to pick their weaknesses but to encourage their innate strengths and then sharpen them further. We need to understand that most of the brilliant students of the country get admitted into the IIT system and their problems are very unique. We need to relieve them from unnecessary and imaginary stress elements that they suffer from. And that is the reason why we are trying to get a unique solution,” said Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Director of IIT Kharagpur after the workshop.

IITs have considered programs such as students’ helpline, induction program, academic curricula update etc. IIT Kharagpur is introducing four programs for its under graduate students. While the first year students will have an induction program helping them to settle with campus life, the second year students will have an assimilation session where they will understand the IIT system better. Once in third year the students will have reorientation session and finally in final year they will go through a de-induction program to make them ready for life outside campus. IIT BHU has introduced an induction program as well while IIT Bombay has collaborated with TISS for counseling helpline.

Further emphasis is being given on focus on students at various levels of degree programs. The challenges and issues faced by Undergraduate and Postgraduate students are typically different while PhD scholars may face issues which may not even arise for the other two categories of students, again for women students, the issues could be significantly varied. At IIT Kharagpur, the students’ councils will now have representation of four categories of students – Woman, PhD, Postgraduate and Undergraduate from every department who will be further represented by a council member from each category. This will ensure that the students from every department will be channel their worries and problems to the IIT Kharagpur administration. Further, students counseling will also include services such career development and students’ activities to make counseling stigma free and encourage students to opt for professional help for conscious health and wellness activities. IIT Bombay has developed a detailed questionnaire to analyze students’ mental health. IIT Madras has developed reactive and proactive programmes called Mitra and Saathi respectively.

It has been observed that the students at the institute fight peer pressure, parental pressure and have trouble with time management. And many are suffering from stress induced by technology addiction. “We need to increase the human connect. These days students are more active virtually. Also we need to understand what makes brilliant students to go through failure. And our aim is to help them build resilience and handle failure” added Prof. Chakrabarti.

The program has been initiated by Ministry of Human Resources Development to develop a set of recommendations which could promote wellness among students across old and new IITs. The outcome and recommendations of the workshop will be communicated to MHRD for considering execution at IITs and similar institutions.

The Director, IIT Kharagpur