Helpline launched for students to deal with mental stress getting 15 calls every day

South Point has been holding mental health sessions for its students.

A helpline launched by South Point High School for students to deal with mental stress has been getting at least 15 calls a day from children across the city.

Cheer Up, a free helpline for teenagers from any school, is a joint effort of South Point High School and Crystal Minds (a mental wellness clinic), in association with Young Metro & 91.9 Friends FM.

Launched on June 8, the helpline is open nine hours a day and will be functional till June 23.

The students have spoken about their fear of losing a loved one, uncertainties regarding their future as exams are getting scrapped and frustration of living a locked-up life for more than a year now.

South Point has been holding mental health sessions for its students. It thought of opening the helpline keeping in mind the plight of students who lack access to counsellors or who need to be helped confidentially, said Krishna Damani, a trustee of the school.

“There are schools that have counsellors that reach out to their students or families who have a strong support system for their children. But there are also a whole lot of children who have no access to counsellors. The pandemic has brought upon children grief and other anxieties that need to be addressed,” said Damani.

The psychologists are talking to the children directly, and not to their parents.

“Students are hearing about death and loss more often. They are scared about their loved ones or what if it happens to them,” said psychiatrist Rima Mukherjee, the founder director of Crystal Minds.

Mukherjee also said that for many students this long stretch of online classes was making them demotivated.

“Some of them are also complaining about being angry all the time because they are unable to cope with pressure or about their frustration of staying indoors,” she said.

Psychologists said the students needed a validation of their anxiety and someone who would listen to them without “lecturing”.

“What the students in distress need is to be heard out and mental health professionals do that. They need to be told that it is alright to feel what they are feeling,” said Mukherjee.

She said there were instances of students directing their anger at their parents or friends. “We give them ways to cope with the situation without judging them.”

A total of 18 psychologists are taking calls six days a week (Monday to Saturday).

Those seeking help can send a WhatsApp message to 8910963680 between 9am and 1.30pm or to 7439715358 from 1.30pm to 6pm.

In response to the messages, contact details of the students, a brief description of their problems and the parents’ name are sought. Following this they are registered to get a call from a mental health professional.

“Students in general have their own demons to tackle, besides dealing with the pressure of performing well as well as remaining focussed. The buzz of classrooms and support of their friends are largely missing in the present circumstances and they have turned lonely and at times have nobody to turn to…,” said South Point High School principal Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharjee.

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