A student's life is considered to be the most beautiful stage of a person's life. But, it is not always as beautiful and cheerful as it looks from outside. A student, especially in today's times has to undergo a wide range of social and emotional challenges. To bring out the best out of a student, it is important to understand their problems and offer help. This is why counselling in schools has become an important part of the education program. Here is a take on the need for counselling in schools and some of the issues school counselors deal with.
Importance of guidance and counselling in a student's life:
It is said that, “Education is the passport to future.” A good academic performance thus plays a vital role in shaping the future of a student. It is however observed that students in the age group of 13-18 struggle hard to cope with their emotional and psychological problems which in turn leave a bad impact on the academic performance. Teenage students show behavioural changes and are often the most vulnerable among the student community. They need a person who listens to them, understands their problems and is ready to offer help. Such a person is a school counselor. A student counselor has to deal with a range of student problems including peer bullying, academic pressure, depression, distractions, suicidal tendencies, drug abuse, absenteeism and much more. The alarming rate of student suicides proves how important it is to counsel students in order to take care of their mental health. As per the report published in The Indian Express dated 24-12-2018, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya is facing a serious challenge of student suicides. An investigation by The Indian Express has revealed that JNVs have had close to 50 suicides on campus in just 5 years. The case of private schools is no different. According to statistics, over the past three years more than 26,000 students have committed suicide across India. The reasons are mainly depression, stress, academic pressure, over expectations etc. This is indeed an indication towards the need of a counselor in schools but at the same time we are bound to think about the effectiveness of counselling in schools.
Having a school counsellor is just not enough!
Deterioration in the mental health of students and suicide cases have been reported even in schools offering counselling services to students. This is because in most of the schools, especially in private schools the management after appointing a school counselor is just not bothered about the quality of service the counselor delivers. Let us have a look at a few points that need to be addressed for ensuring effective counselling in schools.
● Experience: Appointing an experienced counselor is very much important to offer best help to students. They can be more patient in listening to the students’ problems and can come up with better ways to offer solace. However, many schools seem to be interested in just filling the vacancy and are least bothered about the experience of the candidate. A counsellor with no experience in the field can offer only limited help to students in most of the cases.
● Constant evaluation of counselling services: In most of the schools, counsellors are not supervised or evaluated based on the service they deliver. The school authorities fail to check the quality of their service. Counsellors should be successful in motivating the students, guiding them towards right career choice and at the same time helping them to cope with their personal problem. If a counsellor is not able to do that, the authorities should take necessary action.
● Communication between teachers and counsellor: It is a teacher who first notices behavioral changes in a student inside the classroom. Teachers should identify the students who genuinely need help and discuss the exact case with counsellor. This will help the counselor to have a better understanding of the student which in turn would help the counselor in improving the mental health of such students.
● Commitment: Commitment towards what you do is the most important thing as far as any job is concerned. Counsellors should be 100% committed in guiding the students and helping them to deal with their social and emotional problems. A counsellor should always work by keeping this simple fact in mind. “To the world you must be just a counsellor; but to your students, you are a hero.”
The management and concerned authorities should thus keep a strict vigil on the work of school counsellors. Also, the appointment should be strictly made on the basis of qualification and experience. Our prime focus should be towards offering solace to students and prepare them for their bright future. A school with a student counsellor is not what we need for our kids. A school with the right counsellor is the best we can do for our kids.
How can we help?
● Our kids are our responsibility. Expecting the school to take care of your kids is where many parents go wrong. It is true that schools play a major role in shaping the minds of kids, but those at home are the ones who need to be the real support system for their kids. We can't change the way school managements work, but we can surely bring a change in our busy lives to spend some time with kids.
● Do not ignore the behavioural changes in your kids. Talk to them and try to understand what they are going through.
● Do not scold them for their poor academic performance, instead look for the reason behind it.
● Try to make a positive atmosphere at home.
● If the school counsellor is not able to provide right guidance, you should take your kid to an experienced counsellor before the situation worsens.