Unlike how colleges used to be more than just good grades and academic excellence, anyone who’s been through college knows about the life lessons they’ve taken with them. But, students today face a challenge no one saw coming. While the present health structure collapses a little more every day due to a daunting virus, student mental health services are needed to support students’ psychological well-being. Things like ‘Zoom Fatigue’ take a toll on the students and are ripping them off the networking experience. Such services may also be considered an essential part of academic success and retention.
Students have long been prone to stress, anxiety, and depression because the college experience is stripped almost entirely of campus life, tradition, and structure. But just like every cloud has a silver lining, we saw a ray of hope. An NGO names Curenetic.
It is a student-led mental health awareness NGO founded by Vidushi and Ishita, who are in 11th grade. What stirred them to begin this was their enthusiasm for helping others, knowing that being alone during tough times is strenuous. The vision of Curenetic is not to let anyone be alone but to fight with them. Our primary target audience is teenagers; we help them by hearing them and guiding them to the right help.
Radhika Aggi, a Fraser Valley India student, joined Curenetic a couple of months back for a few noble reasons. “I believed in their vision and wanted to help with this social cause”, she said. Listen to
Q. What was that one determiner that helped the 11th standard students start an NGO undeniable in today’s day and age?
One determiner that I think motivated Vidushi and Ishita, to begin with, is their situations. It is rightly said you don’t know what being in someone else’s shoes feels like unless you have been in it. As teens, they understood what suffering through mental health problems alone felt like and didn’t want anyone else to go through the same. The pandemic just added to that because all students were isolated from their friends, impacting many people. It pushed them to come forward and help.
Q. Tell us what Curenetic does and what are some aims and goals of the NGO?
The primary aim of Curenetic is to remove the stigma around mental health in India and not let any teenager fight through such situations alone.
To achieve this, our goal is to create a bridge between counsellors and the younger generation and provide a reliable, secure platform for people to say what they feel like.
Besides this, we do live educational sessions talking about different ways to let out your emotions, gain confidence and more. We regularly educate our audience about various mental health problems. We have carried out fundraisers to help people in need. We also have monthly playlists on Spotify based on moods. Apart from that, we use discord to help out teenagers through programs such as study with me, college seniors and ranting channels.
Q. How and when did you realize that you want to volunteer for an NGO dealing with student mental health?
I discovered my interest in Psychology in the last two years of high school. I immediately became an advocate for mental health and joined a summer internship at Fortis Hospital, Ludhiana, which helped develop my interest. When I got to know about curenetic and how they are willing to help people in the time of a global pandemic, I knew I had to give back to our community in some way.
Q. What are your views on mental health, and why do you think that having good mental health is very important for students?
In my opinion, being in a healthy state of mind is so important and in a country where student suicide rates are skyrocket high, it’s essential for us as the upcoming youth to stand up for it. Students can hide a lot of mental stress in front of other people, and It can cause burnout very easily. Sometimes We can forget to take care of ourselves while drowning in school work and stress.
Q. These days, students are under tremendous pressure to excel in college and land the right job right after college. This adds to the mental stress level a student might undergo. How does your NGO help such students, and what would be your general advice to people fighting to cope with such cases?
When it comes to the pressure on us students, I don’t think anyone except us could understand what that feels like.
Keeping this in mind, we recently started an initiative on our discord server for students who are looking to go to college soon. The initiative consists of college students who have gotten into college and help make the high school students understand the process.
My advice to such students would be to take a deep breath, understand and organize. This trick had done wonders for me when I was stressed. Whenever you feel like there’s a lot to finish and little time: Take a deep breath, evaluate everything that’s meant to be done and schedule it based on how you would like to finish it. This reduces all that panic to a great extent, and you feel so much better about yourself.
Q. You are a student yourself, and you have the same pressure as many of your peers. At a personal level, how do you deal with the stress and keep yourself in a healthy state of mental health?
We have many rollercoasters in our lives.
If I am honest, sometimes stress can override my mental health. But with practising a few tricks, I have reached one conclusion. As long as you start working on things the moment they are assigned, it would help manage things. However, I am still learning to take care of my mental health. Something which might work for me doesn’t mean it will work for others as well. It’s necessary to look and discover what tricks will work in your time and speed.
Q. Define the role a college plays/could play in ensuring that student mental health remains at the optimal level while equipping them with real-life stressful problems?
I think if the institution understands the students well, it could help solve so many problems.
While equipping them with real-life stressful problems is essential, it could not be at the cost of our mental well being.
Hence, it is equally essential for the institution to guide them through the process and inculcate problem-solving skills in each student to become responsible citizens of tomorrow. This could be done through various ways such as student-led seminars, monthly mental health check-ups, regular awareness through mailing lists, and bonding and opening up sessions.
Q. What are some plans that your NGO aims at?
Our NGO aspires to be a platform that teenagers could rely on, and in the long term, we want to be able to achieve that platform and establish strong relationships with our audience. At the moment, we are also in progress to launch our third fundraiser.
Q. If you undergo mental stress at any time, what do you do to bring yourself back on track?
To get me back on track, I need to keep my mind fresh and somewhat at peace. I organize what I need to do and when(according to the priority), sit back with the bunch of snacks, and start doing my work. I need to keep a water bottle with me to keep myself hydrated. A walk in the park or a quick meet with my friends can do wonders if you need a break before getting on with your work.
Q. With the ever-evolving pandemic situation, uncertainties and stress have gripped every student alike. What would be your advice to a student who finds these times challenging and never-ending, considering they stand at a pivotal juncture?
There are two sides to every coin, and so is the case with this pandemic. While everyone thinks of it as a bane, there are so many more opportunities it opens up for you. Just hold up for two minutes and think of how you can benefit from it and talk to people to get ideas running. Also, while hustling through work, it is imperative not to forget to do things that make you happy and spend time with yourself, taking care of yourself! We have lost a lot of people, and we cant certainly afford to lose more. Every life is precious.