Youth Wellness Intervention in Kota
Every year almost 1.5 Lakh adolescents come to Kota to attend coaching classes to appear for JEE/NEET entrance examinations for engineering and medical respectively. Students are mostly in the age group of 15 to 18 years and study in 11th and 12th standard. This has given rise to the multi-million coaching industry which caters to this need of the students and parents to receive the best coaching available. A large number of ancillary units have also emerged such as hostels, paying guest arrangements, messes, cafes, stationers and other service providers. Admission to entrance examinations is extremely competitive with only about 5% of the students getting admission into the premiere institutions while others are left to try again in subsequent year or return to their homes disappointed. is well-established commercial coaching system, these young individuals spend an average of 9-12 hours a day studying for the entrance exams. In order to perform at the best of their capabilities, students often sacrifice on their sleep as well as any form of recreation such as physical activity. As a community, the city of Kota appears to have limited opportunities for recreation spaces which are accessible to all students.
Many families take loans to fund their ward’s studies and stay in Kota. This financial pressure plays a key role along with the already existing academic pressure in susceptibility of students towards stress and adverse wellbeing. The high need for achievement amidst this highly competitive environment, coupled with lack of perceived support can often lead to anxiety, depression, substance use and a range of other wellbeing related issues.
Two years ago, Vishakha took the challenge to create a system of support for these students so as to address these disturbing issues. We entered Kota with the aim of achieving the following objectives-
- Creating safe and inclusive spaces for migrant youth for self-exploration, dialogue, perspective building on a range of mental health concerns and issues.
- Continuing and strengthening wellbeing-oriented counselling services for migrant students.
- Sensitizing and influencing institutions and service providers to improve services and take a pro-active approach & actions towards wellbeing of the youth.
- Collaborating with and engaging local community for enhancing hospitability and responsiveness.
- Continuous Capacity building of the team towards effective and qualitative intervention.
- Strengthening the field of psychosocial work with adolescents and young people.
In over 2 years, we have been able to reach more than 3000 students through our outreach activities such as poster exhibitions as well as recreational events at various public spaces as well as hostels. We have engaged with the youth on issues such as wellness, living away from home, time management, stress management and mental health awareness. Safe and inclusive spaces have been created at hostels, coaching institutes and at space of location owners where students feel safe to express freely, share personal experiences and feel a sense of community. More than 100 students have received counselling services through either face to face, telephonic or smaller counselling processes for a range of issues including academic concerns, relationship difficulties, sexual and reproductive health and family related issues.
At a systemic level, Vishakha has been able to sensitize local administration such as the District Collectorate, DMHP, CWC by engaging in meaningful dialogue with them over the course of these two years. We aim to strengthen our relationship with the major coaching institutes in Kota so as to work collaboratively with them in creating safe and inclusive spaces for their students which can encourage greater help seeking behaviour.
We have also made efforts to sensitize the local community of Indra Vihar and Rajiv Gandhi Nagar areas in Kota towards the issue of wellbeing of the students. Location owners have been sensitized to enhance the sense of hospitality for the students and make referrals wherever necessary. In the coming years, we aim to strengthen our engagement with the youth to provide psychosocial services for their wellbeing as well as enter into deeper relationships with the local community and the stakeholders to provide assistance in creating a safer and more sensitive environment to the needs of the students in Kota.
You may go through the attached ppts (links given below) to have a feel about the work going on in Kota.