CHENNAI: At least 60 to 70 per cent of students who are at an increased risk of depression and anxiety due to NEET exams are repeaters, say counsellors of the State 104 Health Helpline. The State government collected the contact numbers of 1,10,971 aspirants from Tamil Nadu who took the NEET-UG medical entrance exam in the second week of this month. The aspirants were given stress-management counselling by the 104 Helpline Centre at DMS campus and the State engaged 60 psychologists and 25 psychiatrists for the purpose.
By Sunday noon, the counsellors at the helpline had completed contacting all NEET aspirants. They categorised over 200 candidates as ‘high risk’ and have been in touch with them regularly. “Around 45,000 candidates didn’t respond to calls. So we began to contact them again from Sunday noon. The process will continue till the declaration of results,” Dr TT Saravanan, chief of 104 Health Helpline, told TNIE. “After the result, we will contact all the students again, giving priority to the high-risk category,” Dr Saravanan added.
Some of the high-risk candidates are also first-time attempters, and these are mostly children of farmers and from weaker backgrounds. These students would be first-time graduates of their families and so experience more pressure, said Saravanan. “Counsellors are contacting high-risk candidates at least every alternative day. We are also talking to their parents,” he added.
The contact numbers and other basic information of high-risk candidates have been shared to concerned district officials. If needed, district officials will also visit students’ homes. “Many students suffer predominantly due to parental pressure and misconceptions about studying medicine. At least 15 per cent of students we contacted said medicine is their life.
They are also panicking about the result,” said Dr V Venkatesh Madan Kumar, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Kilpauk, who has been deputed to 104 Helpline for the counselling. “Some students are taking it easy. They said if not medicine, they have other opportunities,” he added. “Making the students understand that ‘medicine is not life’ is important. Depression can be overcome if someone is there to listen to the depressed. Even a few minutes of listening calmly can make them come out of depression and that is what we are doing at 104,” said Venkatesh Madan Kumar.