Counselling services in Schools

Shria Abrol

Just as you go to the gym regularly to keep your body fit, regular counseling can keep your mental health fit as well.
WHO defines mental health as the state of the mind of the individual free from fears and anxieties, which enables him/her to be fully functional, effective and capable of realizing all potentials inherent in the individual.What contributes for happiness and wellbeing is a fundamental issue that has been debated in all cultures for ages. Material wealth and affluence, fulfilment of one’s desires, human relationships, development of one’s potentialities and individuality, one’s own psychological state, faith in a religion and spirituality are some of the variables considered as relevant and significant in this context.A professional counsellor provides support to students to find ways to be self-aware and help themselves to overcome issues they are facing and lead a happy life.
We often hear about suicidal cases due to lack of supportive approach and atmosphere of understanding students in schools. India has witnessed a spurt in incidents of students taking the extreme step and running away from homes unable to bear even momentary setbacks and failures. Experts say these tragic incidents call for putting in place a comprehensive school mental health programme to help children cope with failures, downfalls and adverse circumstances but the question remains how many schools invest in counselling services?
We as a society need to understand that our children need guidance and counselling services in schools to improve their mental status and also for academic achievement. School counselling programs exhibit some characteristics like: Foundational mission and goals, School counsellors design, implement, and maintain guidance programs that align with the educational mission and philosophies of their schools. These programs help every student develop competencies in academic achievement, personal and social development, and career planning.
At the moment there are not enough support systems in place in the educational institutions to help students to over come depression or impulsive behaviour. Doctors say parents are not spending enough time with their children and there seems to be no supportive approach in dealing with their problems. Many parents are still continuing with corporal punishment even for small failures instead of going for a therapy or seeking help of a professional counsellor.
Role of a school counsellor is often misunderstood, for parents its important to understand a school counsellor is your child’s friend and need to overcome the taboo related to sending a child for counselling. A school counsellor can help to improve academic achievement of your child, support your child’s diverse needs, promote positive behaviour and create safe, positive school climate. A counsellor is supposed to take individual counselling sessions with the children who are referred for counselling and also develop skills if the child has any special needs.
In our city, it is challenging to find right counselling centres as less importance is given to guidance and counselling and the focus is merely on academic performance. Before going to a counsellor make sure you check his/her qualifications and license for practising specially with children.  Also remember counselling is a process and the aim is to help the client to help himself and  not find absolute answers on client’s behalf.
Sometimes, the act of venting is helpful for children. Counselling provides a safe haven for precisely that kind of free-ranging release: your child can say things in a counselling session with the counsellor present, that would be incendiary or hurtful in your living room.
Being a school counsellor is a very rewarding experience . I personally feel honoured to be able to touch lives of my students and their families everyday.
(The author is  RCI Child counsellor ( Jodhamal public school)