Dr. Zavise Rume
1.Create a Counselling Centre in schools
A school head can locate an empty room in the school with the basic infrastructure to provide a space for students to express themselves. Students can be invited for free and frank interaction on the condition of safety of information with the assurance of strict confidentiality.
2. Treat mental health and emotional wellbeing at par with any school curricular subject
Modern school education has recognised mental and emotional health at par with any school curricular subject in the pursuit of holistic child development and in this context, counselling is now universally accepted worldwide as a highly professional service to cater to the needs of mental and emotional wellbeing.
3. Enhance students’ performance through counselling process
School Counselling a continuous and comprehensive method of promoting mental health and emotional wellbeing of children in the school to maximise their innate potentialities and inborn qualities and talents so as to help them to enhance their school performances. Counselling as an integral part of school education is universally accepted as a daily normal school routine exercise.
4. Promote regular interaction with children in school
Encourage every teacher to have deep interaction: face to face individual interaction with every child in the school, discuss with children their personal joy, happiness, sadness, sorrow, success, failure. Teachers can invite students individually or in group to interact with them about their life at home, personal likes and dislikes, success and failure and difficulties and give a space for their fullest expression of feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, sorrow, anxiety and stress that they are experiencing daily. Give them a space for freedom of expression, complete expression in the form of oral expression, explaining, shouting, crying, weeping, etc. simply keep on listening to what the student is saying without interrupting. Ask him or her to express more and more about the story. Ask the student to share about his or her personal life, family life, school life, the most interesting subjects, the most difficult subjects, the difficulty that he or she is facing (in the past and the present). At the end of each day, the school head can assess the quality and quantity of such interactions each teacher has with children.
5. Talking daily about emotional and mental health issues
From time to time, a school principal/ headmaster/teacher incharge can entrust someone to talk about issues related to mental health, emotional wellbeing and strategies of emotions, stresses of daily life, strategies for deeper understanding of self in the Morning Assembly. Sometimes, locally available professionally trained and qualified counsellors can be invited with minimum professional fee.
6. Counselling Cell and Centre in schools
Every school (private or government school) can form a Counselling Cell with teachers who are trained or interested in counselling, to cater to the needs of mental and emotional well being of the students.
If professionally trained counsellors are around your locality, you can create a counselling centre in your school with the help of such professionals, without waiting for the Government to do so. Gradually, the State Government nodal Department may be approached for necessary support.
7. Train teachers
The SCERT, Nagaland is a nodal Department to implement all kinds of guidance and counselling programmes in the school. SCERT, Nagaland was the first SCERTs in the whole country to introduce a 9- month regular Diploma course in School Counselling beginning from last year April, 2018. This course was introduced with the primary objective to ensure that every school (private or govt school) in the State has atleast one male one female counselor, which means we will be needing atleast one to two thousand teachers to be trained as School Counsellors. The first batch of the training was successfully completed and the second batch of the course for the year 2019 will be commenced shortly.
8. Allow or encourage students to form various Career Clubs
Students can be guided to form various Career Clubs like Science Club, Maths Club, Eco Club, Social Science Club, Linguistic Club, Environment Club, Legal Club, Fashion Club, Tourism Club, Music Club, Multimedia Club etc and the professionals in these areas can be invited from time to time to have interactions with the respective club members for career guidance.
9. Develop a textbook on Mental Health and Emotional wellbeing
Modern schools have now conceptualized to introduce a formal subject and textbook on Mental Health and Emotional wellbeing with counselling, psychotherapy, stress management, meditation and breathing exercise as strategies of dealing with emotions and mental health issues. Schools can adopt these strategies, design the course and introduce them in their own schools without waiting for the government to give instructions to do so.
10. Create counselling clinics
Professionally qualified and trained counsellors can create Counselling Clinics in towns, churches, schools, colleges, university departments, offices. In the present world of complexes, everyone is experiencing all kind of mental and emotional anxiety and stress, work stress and there is a need for psychological healing in the form of counselling.
11. Professional organisations for counsellors
Every professionally qualified and trained counsellor is expected to register himself/herself with a professional organisation as a professional obligation. Every practicing counsellor is ethically bound by certain professional organisation. Any counsellor who refuses to take the membership of a professional organisation is bound to lapse his or her practice and the recognition accorded lapses for disobedience and non-loyalty to the profession.
Presently, in Nagaland, we have All Nagaland Counsellors Association (ANCA). In North East India, we have North East Psychological Counsellors Association (NEPCA) and in India, at national level, we are in the process of forming an All India Counsellors Association (AICA).
12. Clear cut State Government Policy
We need a clear cut state government policy on school counselling, giving recognition to the crucial importance of mental and emotional wellbeing of the students in the pursuit of education for holistic and total personality development of the child. We need a regulatory body to regulate laws relating to licensing the practice of counselling as this practice deals with the most delicate, sensitive and crucial area of human growth and development like that of medical practices.
(The author of this article is presently an Associate Professor of SCERT, Nagaland. The opinions expressed in this article is purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the policies and programmes of the Department).