The state Health Department set up the 104 helpline, through which counsellors would reach out to all the 1,10,971 aspirants from Tamil Nadu who took the NEET-UG exam.

Employees of Health Tele Helpline center wearing face masks are seen working during a nationwide lockdownRepresentative image
news NEET Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 19:42
Written by  IANS

The counsellors of the 104 Health Helpline, which was set up by the Tamil Nadu government following the suicides of three NEET aspirants, said that anxiety level is high in students who have repeated the pre-medical entrance examination. The helpline was set up to counsel students who have taken the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test. According to the counsellors, among the students who recorded a higher level of anxiety, 60 to 70% were students who repeated the NEET.

The 104 health helpline was set up after three students — Kanimozhi (17), Dhanush (20) and Soundharya T (17) — died by suicide in three days this month. While one student took the extreme step on the day of the NEET, two others took their lives after the exam. It was following this that the health department set up the helpline, through which counsellors would reach out to all the 1,10,971 aspirants from Tamil Nadu who took the NEET-UG exam.

Tamil Nadu has engaged 60 psychologists and 25 psychiatrists to provide counselling to these students. The numbers of all the 1,10,971 students were collected and they were contacted.

Periyasamy, a psychologist who is with the 104 health helpline, told IANS, "A large number of students who took the NEET were found to be tense and of this, we could find that the maximum tensed students were those who have taken the repeaters test. The repeaters generally devote the entire year to prepare for the exam by skipping their regular classes and hence they would be very tense after appearing for the examination."

The counsellors said that 200 students were categorised as 'High Risk' and the counsellors are in regular touch with them to prevent them from taking any extreme step.

Dr Sarvanan, Chief of 104 health helpline, told IANS, "Of the 1,10,971 NEET aspirants, 45,000 did not respond to our repeated calls, but we will continue to call and try counselling them." He said that all students would again be contacted and this process will continue till the students respond to the calls. He said that the calls would continue till the exam results are out.

Dr Venkitesh Madankumar, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai while speaking to IANS, said, "Some students are taking the exam easily and they said that if they could not crack this, they would opt for some other career. However, 15% of the students said that medicine was their life."

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The counsellors also said that some students who have appeared for the first time are also tense, and according to statistics, these students come from socially and economically weaker backgrounds.

Saravanan said, "Most of such students would be first-time graduates of their families and they experience more tension. Counsellors are contacting high-risk students every alternate day and we are also in touch with their parents."

He added that the details of these students are provided to the district administrations where they live and officials would visit the homes of these students.

Dr Rajani UV, Professor of Psychiatry, Madurai Government Medical College, said, "The students have to be properly taught that medicine is not the end of life nor this examination and they have high potential and they can try other areas if they are not able to crack the examinations. It has to be communicated to them."

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At 104, the counsellors said that most of the students who are tense want someone to listen to their issues. Another psychologist said, "We are convincing them that we are there to listen to them and would sort out their problems.”

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