Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Counseling centers in colleges in India

The term counseling is often very confusing. It majorly is a guidance to cope up with a situation or to make choices, an advice system which could help you make decisions or take a certain course of action. So I was reading in a local newspaper about the attempts to set up counseling centers, in Indian universities.According the universities in India, the whole point of doing this is the typical reason for helping out college students deal with their transition from high school to college and to help them deal with various kinds of stresses that they could face.

I completely agree with setting up counseling centers in universities. But in a country like India, counseling, depression, therapy and even psychology are all seen more as a social stigma than as something helpful. That said, anyone going for therapy or taking something as much as an anti depressant is looked upon with eyes of pity, or eyes of curiosity about their inability to handle their problems. As long as there is going to be this sort of social stigma, chances of children coming forward with their problems to the counselors are going to be really sleek. Several people cope with their issues and come out strong after struggles, but the whole awareness of setting up counseling centers has come about after college students have committed suicides.

Let me give a simple example. Again, this is purely based on my understanding. When Indian parents do eventually take a step of sending their kid to a shrink, they have all sorts of anxieties and apprehensions. Firstly they want an objective answer as to how long a therapy would continue. They are of the constant fear that a simple counseling and therapy could become a big problem in the future. Part of the fear is about any occurrence of future psychological issues, but the bigger part of the fear is concerned with the social stamping their kid might get on them, which could hinder relationships like marriages etc in the future. Note that there is a difference between a psychological fear and a social fear here.

All this said, setting up of counseling centers in Indian universities is definitely a positive step, but how effective it would be is still is big unanswered question. People need to be made aware that a therapy or medications for psychological disorders and several of the psychological disorders themselves are not really a social stigma, but are just like other genuine issues which could be solved. As long as psychological problems are seen as social disgrace, or as hardcore mental health issues, psychological treatments or counseling centers etc are going to be difficult to be made useful for people.

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