COVID-19: UGC directs universities to set up mental health helplines for students

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all universities and colleges to set up mental health helplines to address psychosocial concerns of students during the lockdown imposed to combat coronavirus. “During the period of national lockdown, it is equally important to address any kind of mental health and psychosocial concerns of student community during and after COVID-19 situation issue,” UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain said in a letter to vice chancellors.

“Therefore, in order to reassure the student community to avoid any kind of stress or panic in the prevailing situation vis-a-vis their studies, health and other issues, the universities and colleges may set up mental health helplines for the purpose. The helpline should be regularly monitored and managed by counsellors and identified faculty members,” the letter said.

The commission has suggested that there should be regular mentoring of students through interactions and appeals to remain calm and stress-free.

“The universities may form COVID-19 help groups of students, headed by hostel wardens and senior faculty, who can identify friends and classmates in need of help,” Jain said.

The Union health ministry has launched a toll-free helpline (08046110007) for people who may face mental health issues due to the ongoing 21-day countrywide lockdown.

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ had on Sunday said a decision would be taken on reopening schools and colleges on April 14 after reviewing the situation.

The death toll due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country rose to 109 on Monday and the number of cases climbed to 4,067, according to the Union Health Ministry.

While the number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 3,666, as many as 291 people have been cured and discharged, and one has migrated, the ministry stated. The total number of cases include 65 foreign nationals.

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