Mental health and the University
The Mental Healthcare Act was approved recently by Parliament. From now on, stigmatizing a mentally ill person, and denying him or her the wherewithal (the money or other means needed for a particular purpose.) for treatment will be illegal. As a teacher, I am interested in a special provision in the Act where public institutions such as universities are urged to treat mental health as a valuable public good in its own right.
Parents send their sons and daughters to university. On graduation, they expect the latter to chase the ‘Indian dream’. What goes unnoticed in this pursuit of dreams is the undue strain on well-being or inner resourcefulness which experts call mental health. Because it seems intangible and yet ever-yielding, we tend to treat mental health as a kind of black box, tucking it away(to hide) until it becomes absolutely essential to retrace anomalies that precipitate a crash. Surely, universities cannot afford this.
Pressure to perform
In the higher education scenario, sidelining mental health may still happen amid a belief that the latter is anathema to rigour (the quality of being extremely thorough and careful.). Mental health takes a back seat even within something as significant as a doctoral programme. For one thing, PhDs demand long-standing cerebral commitment on the part of the students and their beloved. Over five-plus years, students learn to grapple with hypotheses, narrative frameworks, and research methods. Can a protracted doctoral training in methodological prowess render graduate students feel wanting from within? Yes, it can. In fact, it may potentially undermine their wherewithal to weigh real-life challenges such as a shaky knowledge of English, attention deficit, competing gender demands, knowledge accessibility, and ups and downs of an unforgiving employment market. They may even be prompted to ignore at their peril a structural evil such as caste discrimination. Conversely, graduate students may slowly become self-serving, or be wrongly perceived as such. In like manner, a million instances of social regression may affect doctoral candidates during a student tenure and beyond.
Doctorate is a specialist training. It aims to prepare someone as a full-fledged professional researcher in a given field. An undergrad programme, on the other hand, aims to offer a generalist training in one or a selected cluster of knowledge systems. Furthermore, an undergrad course is designed with the premise that its clientele (clients collectively.) are straight from the school, and are in formative(serving to form something, especially having a profound influence on a person’s development.) stages of life. Naturally, tertiary classroom is an ideal place to test the scope, depth, and the reception of any field of knowledge. A mental health-aware teaching plan may potentially strengthen such disciplinary manoeuvrings from the foundations up.
Opening up young minds
Take a literature class, for example. College teachers may make use of a supreme role of literature such as an advocacy function. During an advocacy adventure, teachers and students gain a rare freedom to explore something as ghastly as disability discrimination caused by an ill social organisation. Towards this end, they may examine a circulation of a malicious stereotype, and much more, in favour of a disability-enabled literary criticism. All the same, to introduce the three-dimensionality of a discriminatory environment, I will prompt students to imagine situations where one is pushed against the wall, harassed, and, for that matter, offered an unexpected healing touch. Such a narrative imagination, I contend, may enable students to open up. Further, it may help them appreciate something as fundamental as emotional fulfilment, and factors such as discrimination that can potentially wreck it from inside. Likewise, teachers may encourage students to consider how their respective disciplines add value to human well being. A teacher of computer science, for example, may offer a module on the impact of robotics and the digital revolution on human emotion. In a similar vein, a civil engineering teacher may introduce a module on the close link between habitat, architectures, and human resourcefulness. The possibilities are endless! It all depends on the will of the teachers who are in some sense unacknowledged pillars of the much-talked-about knowledge revolution.
‘Guru Brahma, guru Vishnu, guru dhevo maheshvaraha’. I will not hesitate for a moment to ignore the mythical import of this Sanskrit dictum. However, I cannot afford to discount the special role of a teacher in the creation, preservation, and destruction of knowledge. Great teacher and student bonding facilitates a creation of priceless ideas, the preservation of human goodness, and a war against bigotry. It is for this reason we should reinstate mental health as a binding principle and an everyday reminder of human dignity in a university setting.
1.Stigmatize (verb) निन्दित करना : Describe or regard as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval.
Synonyms: Defame, Discredit, Condemn, Denounce.
Antonyms: Exalt, Praise, Extol, Glorify, Revere, Aggrandize.
Example: The stigmatization of AIDS victims is perhaps the most formidable obstacle in the fight against AIDS in Indonesia – and the world, for that matter.
- Tuck away(Phrasal verb) छिपाना : To hide or store something away.
Synonyms: Cloak, Cover, Mask, Hide.
Antonyms: Uncover, Unwrap, Divulge.
Example: Grandma always kept a little of money tucked away in case of an emergency.
- Wherewithal(noun) साधन/ उपाय : The money or other means needed for a particular purpose.
Synonyms: money, cash, capital, finance, resources, funds.
Antonyms: requirement, lack.
Example: If applicants have the money and wherewithal to wage a war of words, the effort usually pays off.
- Anathema(noun) अभिशाप: Something or someone that one vehemently dislikes./ a strong curse.
Synonyms: Abhorrence, Bane, Curse, Imprecation.
Antonyms: Love, Boon, Blessing, Benison.
Example: He shrank from the venerable saint as if to avoid an anathema .
- Rigour(noun) सावधानी/ कठोरता : The quality of being extremely thorough and careful.
Synonyms: Meticulousness, Thoroughness, Carefulness, Attention To Detail, Scrupulousness.
Antonyms: Carelessness, Inattention, Neglectfulness.
Example: Quality teaching and learning in the form of intellectual rigour was essential to the success of this project.
- Prowess(noun) कौशल : Skill or expertise in a particular activity or field.
Synonyms: Skill, Expertise, Effectiveness, Mastery, Talent, Adroitness, Adeptness.
Antonyms: Inability, Incapacity, Weakness.
Example: The American scientist was to be prized not just for intellectual prowess , but technical facility.
- Cluster(noun) समूह/ इकट्ठा होना: A group of similar things or people positioned or occurring closely together.
Synonyms: Bunch, Clump, Collection, Mass, Group, Clutch, Bundle
Antonyms: Individual, One.
Example: A bunch of small children had clustered around it – it was the only one on the street.
- Formative(adjective) निर्माणात्मक/ रचनात्मक: Serving to form something, especially having a profound influence on a person’s development.
Synonyms: developmental, developing, growing, malleable, impressionable, susceptible.
Antonyms: Decaying, Destructing.
Example: The computer camp will be a formative experience for my son because it will allow him to learn from the world’s best developers.
- Prompt(verb) अनुबोधन करना/प्रोत्साहित करना: Cause someone to take a course of action.
Synonyms: Induce, Motivate, Lead, Persuade, Encourage, Stimulate, Prod.
Antonyms: Discourage, Dissuade.
Example: His death has prompted an industry-wide investigation of safety violations.
- Mythical(adjective) पौराणिक/काल्पनिक:Occurring in or characteristic of myths or folk tales.
Synonyms: Mythological, Fabled, Folkloric, Fantastical, Imaginary.
Antonyms: Factual, Real, Genuine, True.
Example: Television thus becomes a cultural and historical watershed allowing people to create a mythical past