Adolescent education -Youth vulnerable to depression: psychiatrists

Dear teachers,

Adolescent education needs to be a very important (most important?) part of our high school education, but we are unable to devote much time/energies to it.

In my view, believing that life skills will be taught through the core subjects is not useful, since neither teachers may think it is important to devote time to this aspect, nor may all be competent to do so.

Should schools have adolescent education / life skills as a separate subject with a qualified teacher?



People suffering from depression form a major chunk of patients visiting psychiatrists in Mysuru. And a large number of them are youth, say psychiatrists.

Increase in stress

A perceptible increase in stress arising out of examination and studies, besides the pressure to match up to unrealistic expectations in their personal as well as social and academic lives, has made youth one of the most vulnerable sections to depression in today’s fast-paced life. According to the World Health Organisation, India leads in number of suicides committed by youth below 20.

Few seek guidance

Yet, the number of people seeking expert guidance for diagnosing and treating depression is alarmingly low, said Rajesh Raman, Head of Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College, referring to reports indicating that a significant percentage of the population suffers from depression.

The stigma associated with visiting a psychiatrist in the Indian society is so pervasive that even general medical practitioners are wary of recommending patients with symptoms of depression to a psychiatrist.

“They don’t want to get into the bad books of their patients by suggesting that the latter see a psychiatrist,” he said.

The Department of Psychiatry in JSS Medical College and Hospital, Mysuru, began holding a lecture series for students of its sister institution – Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE) – to create mental health awareness among them under the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme.

The lecture series covers all the 800 students of the college. Recently, film actor Deepika Padukone discussed her struggle with depression and the medical assistance she sought in a televised interview.

SJCE’s student welfare officer and TEQIP Liaison officer N. Haraprasad said some of the students, particularly first-year students, may need expert guidance to cope with the new environment and challenges on the academic front.

“Such counselling from experts not only gives them confidence, but also helps them take a decision whether they need treatment for depression if any. The students go back to the psychiatrists if they need to,” he said.

SJCE also assigns a faculty member as a mentor for every 10 to 12 students to look into their academic and personal challenges. “They meet once in two months or whenever is required,” Dr. Haraprasad added.

Jumping off

Meanwhile, the City Police said instances of depression leading to suicidal tendencies on account of marital disputes are also rampant in Mysuru. So much so, the City Police is planning to shift the Mahila Police station housed on the first floor in Nehru Circle in Lakshar Mohalla to the ground floor to prevent warring couples from jumping off the building.

“There have been instances of people not only threatening to jump off the building, but actually jumping. So, we will be shifting the Mahila police station to the ground floor,” said City Police Commissioner M A Saleem.

IT for Change


With depression predicted to become the second-leading cause for morbidity and mortality by 2020 as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Rajesh Raman, Head of Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital, Mysuru, has emphasised the need for including mental health in school curricula.

Speaking to The Hindu on the issues relating to depression facing the society, Dr. Rajesh said there was a need to create awareness about mental health early in life. Also, there should be a system of gate-keeping in schools and colleges, where trained counsellors can provide guidance to students on issues relating to mental health, he said.

He also said the government should determine standards of expertise required for persons to be appointed as counsellors in educational institutions. “Right now, such standards are absent,” he said.

Dr. Rajesh said the Mental Health Bill proposes to have at least one psychiatrist in each district of the country. Of the estimated 17,000 psychiatrists of Indian origin, only 4,900 are working in India while the rest are working abroad, where there is more awareness about mental health disorders. “The United States alone has about 6,000 psychiatrists of Indian origin,” he said.

Even in India, most of the mental health professionals are concentrated in urban centres. While a majority of the psychiatrists of Karnataka are based out of Bengaluru, Mysuru has about 16 practicing psychiatrists, he said. Contending that the stigma attached to consulting a psychiatrist was a major hurdle, Dr. Rajesh said most cases of depression were treatable. Anti-depressant medication should typically be taken for about six months, he added.

To a question, Dr. Rajesh did not rule out the possibility of people suffering from depression emerging out of it without medical treatment. He also added that aerobic exercises helped reduce depression.

IT for Change

In the past, life skills were automatically learnt in the natural 'eco' system of school,  where success, failures, challenges, competition, and consequences were put very naturally for the pupils. This enabled the emotional aptitude in them for facing life situations more efficiently in spite of several ups and downs.


Current modernized lifestyle and educational changes have made the present generation very sensitive and weak to face the natural negative outcomes / consequences / failures which are also the natural part of life. 


However, it is not necessary that everyone should be of weak nature, as it is resulted according to the individual differences in behaviour/ personality traits in response to the situations.


, Instead of giving life skills as a separate subject in schools, it must be the integrated part of regular learning. Mass promotions, too much of ease and facilities and too much of protective fear is dangerous. However, these aspects should not cause the inhumane way of leading child’s development.


In simple words, : There should be care and moderation in education but it should not spoil the child’s mind.


Johnson Dcunha

Naravi high School

Belthangady tq.

I feel that the issue is not so much about child accepting outcomes in life as much as building acceptance of the children.  With our school system so narrowly focused on some limited competencies - maths, english, etc.  it is but inevitable that more and more children will feel alienated.

Children are born learners.  Our education system must transform itself to allow multiple abilities and talents to be expressed.  (See attached image for an illustration of what this means).  The onslaught of media on children adds to the pressure and self-esteem issues.  Absence of safe spaces in which children can discuss adolescence issues and sexuality, leads to confusion and often results in adolescents getting into unhealthy relationships.  These add further to the stress of the demands of the school in terms of academics. 

This requires teachers, parents and school to come together to create a safe environment for students as they grow into adulthood.  We should create a STF-like forum for discussing and sharing ideas on adolescent education and how we can integrate this into our school processes.


Dear teachers,
I think we need to bring in the issues of sexuality into adolescent education in our high schools. Perhaps we need a dedicated teacher for a subject called adolescent education. Bringing this formally into the syllabus will help give it focus, currently while we believe it should be a part of all subjects, it seldom is touched upon. In the absence of any such education, our students, especially girls, become vulnerable to exploitation.

Comments / feedback/suggestions welcome

Guru, IT for change

For Sunitha Krishnan of Prajwala, the arrest of Kaushi Kauonr from Bengaluru (  by CBI sleuths is only a small step towards justice to the victims of sexual assaults. This was the third arrest made by the police since the Hyderabad-based social activist launched ‘Shame Rapist’ campaign three months ago by posting videos of two rapes online. The video showing faces of six men, involved in two rapes, went viral. As the police failed to make any progress, she moved the Supreme Court. Following her petition, the apex court ordered an investigation by the CBI.

“The two videos I posted apart, I am getting such videos every day. Now, what are the police and the government going to do about the remaining ghastly crimes?” she asked. Speaking to this correspondent, Ms. Krishnan said it was high time the government created a mechanism for rape victims to seek justice like an exclusive wing in the Home Ministry to investigate sex crimes. “The videos of rapes uploaded suggest these crimes are pan-India… crime is committed somewhere, uploaded from Bengaluru and offenders are from some other State,” she pointed out.

Ms. Krishnan also wanted the government to have a formal agreement with the social networking sites like Facebook making it mandatory that any sexually explicit content posted on their pages is immediately informed to the police.

Gurumurthy Kasinathan
Director, IT for Change