The Counseling Unit of BRAC University hosted a discussion at the university’s Mohakhali campus on 10 October 2022 marking World Mental Health Day. The day is observed every year to review and improve mental health challenges, conditions, and services around the world.
The Counseling Unit sought to bring the discussion on mental health to the forefront and raise collective awareness on psychological well-being. The program was also intended at elaborately informing about the Counseling Unit’s activities, identifying post-pandemic mental health challenges of students, and exploring potential collaborations among the university stakeholders to ensure mental wellbeing of students.
Professor Mehtab Khanam, Psychotherapist and Advisor of the Counseling Unit, moderated the discussion. She shared her knowledge and experience of working in the mental health arena. Shami Suhrid, coordinator and counselor of the Counseling Unit, started the session by describing the objectives of the session and services provided by the Counseling Unit.
The discussants emphasized on involving parents in ensuring students’ mental well-being. They also shared that suicide, forced marriage and semester drop issues were occurring mostly due to parental pressure. Emphasis was laid on creating a bridge between students and parents for effective communication. The discussion also focused on ways faculty members and staff can deal with challenges faced by parents and students. It highly recommended organizing sessions on raising awareness on mental health with the faculty members and staff.
The session advocated for creating student leaders and volunteers, and increasing students’ involvement in meaningful works for their holistic well-being. It suggested engaging students to create some self-help tools to manage stress and help each other to learn and grow. It recommended offering students psychology courses incorporating additional elements as those play an important role in spreading knowledge about the human mind and behavior.
The discussion proposed conducting surveys to get an idea of students’ current mental status and developing an app or having a hotline to provide immediate mental health support. One speaker addressed the mental wellness of neurodivergent groups such as students with autism or other learning disabilities. Increase in drug abuse was also highlighted, for which an awareness session was proposed to be incorporated in departmental orientation programs.
The discussants included Dr. Samia Huq, Professor (ESS) and Dean of General Education, Rubana Ahmed, Proctor and Assistant Professor (ESS), Tahsina Rahman, Joint Director of Student Life, Dr. Hasina Yasmin, Professor, Assistant Dean and Program Director (PHR), Assistant Professor Afsana Akhtar (BBS), Professor Asifa Sultana (ENH), Anusheh Shiham Ali, Lecturer (L.L.B), Saiduzzaman Shikder, Senior Department Coordination Officer (ARC), Anjuman Parvin (representative of the parents) Special Education Consultant, Parenting Expert and Director of Heaven Education Services, and two students.