Jaslok mental health study in colleges

This is the first step in the launch of a large-scale programme on depression management and suicide prevention in city colleges.
What drives an 18-year-old to take his life? Why does a teenage girl starve herself to death? Answers to these questions might soon be revealed in a survey of youngsters in the city to find the patterns in lifestyle and psyche that trigger suicidal tendencies amongst college students across the city.

The psychiatry department of Jaslok Hospital, Breach Candy will conduct a mental health survey in city colleges to identify suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, sleeping patterns, stress and anxiety prevalent among teenagers.

This is the first step in the launch of a large-scale programme on depression management and suicide prevention in city colleges.
According to Dr Shamsah Sonawalla, associate director, psychiatry research, Jaslok Hospital, students face mental health problems but do not show outward symptoms that can be identified by parents or peers.

“In most cases of suicide, parents and even close friends of the victim say that the victim did not show any outward symptoms of depression and are surprised by their actions,” she said. This is because these days, students face unique pressures like competing socially, maintaining an attractive body and even competing with international students, she added.

“We want to study what pressures drive students to take such drastic steps as suicide,” said Dr Sonawalla. Students will be asked to fill out questionnaires detailing their daily diet, their social networking habits, number of hours spent sleeping or studying etc.

The personal information asked in the survey will be kept confidential. However, those students who require help will be passed on to college counsellors and other mental health professionals.