Coun­selling and well­be­ing sup­port for RUB stu­dent avail­able

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing Paro

The col­lege-go­ing stu­dents in Bhutan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health and well­be­ing dif­fi­cul­ties will soon re­ceive coun­selling sup­port from spe­cial­ists.

The project for “en­hanc­ing men­tal health, coun­selling, and well­be­ing sup­port for univer­sity stu­dents in Bhutan” will es­tab­lish a hap­pi­ness and well­be­ing cen­tre in all nine col­leges in the Royal Univer­sity of Bhutan (RUB).

This project is in re­sponse to more stu­dents ex­pe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health and well­be­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. The project is ex­pected to en­cour­age the stu­dents to reach out to sup­port ser­vices.

Paro Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion (PCE) and Samtse Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion will im­ple­ment the project with tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance from the Euro­pean part­ners.

The coun­selling cen­ters will em­body a hy­brid

of western coun­selling and psy­chol­ogy prin­ci­ples, and the Bhutanese con­cept of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness. They will en­sure suf­fi­cient num­ber of trained per­son­nel at the RUB.

The project co­or­di­na­tor from PCE, Tashi Phuntsho, said that the project is promis­ing and com­ple­ments what is be­ing done by other stake­hold­ers in the coun­try. “We want to make this more im­por­tant and vis­i­ble,” he said.

Be­sides ser­vices for men­tal health and well­be­ing, the cen­ter is also ex­pected to pro­vide lead­er­ship course and time man­age­ment, among oth­ers. Co­or­di­na­tor Tashi Phuntsho said, “We will also con­tin­u­ously pro­vide em­pow­er­ment cour­ses to the young peo­ple.”

The project pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for the Bhutanese agen­cies work­ing in the field of hu­man ser­vices, coun­selling, well­be­ing and young peo­ple to col­lab­o­rate, in­te­grate, and work to­wards ad­dress­ing the is­sues con­cern­ing young peo­ple and the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

To en­sure that this hap­pens, all the deans of stu­dents’ af­fairs and stu­dent ser­vice of­fi­cers from the col­leges at­tended the 10day project train­ing level one and two at PCE. Tashi Phuntsho said, “They will ad­vice the stu­dents who might need sup­port on a broad range of is­sues.”

The project will gen­er­ate a dig­i­tal plat­form and a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion for stu­dents to en­able them to share their prob­lems anony­mously. This will sup­port the well­be­ing and hap­pi­ness cen­ters, pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in the field of hu­man ser­vice, stu­dents, young peo­ple, for­eign link­ages and re­gional link­ages.

Tashi Phuntsho said that spe­cial­ist sup­port work­ers will of­fer sup­port for spe­cific is­sues, in­clud­ing men­tal health and well­be­ing and ca­reer. “If im­me­di­ate ac­tion is re­quired, the stu­dents will be re­ferred for spe­cial­ist sup­port,” he said.

This in­cludes Bhutan Board of Cer­ti­fied Coun­selor, De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, De­part­ment of Youth and Sports, Drat­shang Lhentshong, Bhutan Med­i­cal and Health Coun­cil, Bhutan Nar­cotic Con­trol Agency and In­sti­tute of Well­be­ing (Ed­u­ca­tion & Re­search), among oth­ers.

The ap­pli­ca­tion will ex­plore the out­comes through data in­for­ma­tion and needs of stu­dents with de­clared men­tal health con­di­tions and well­be­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. It will en­sure the col­leges to do enough for stu­dents who have such con­di­tions so that all stu­dents are prop­erly sup­ported.

The dean of stu­dent af­fairs from the Col­lege of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (CST), Bharat Hu­ma­gai, said that there is a need for more men­tal health coun­sel­lors and well­be­ing sup­port in the RUB col­leges. He said, “We ex­pect that this project will change the lives of young peo­ple in the RUB col­leges.”

He said that the stu­dents’ men­tal health and well­be­ing has be­come an im­por­tant area of study. “Apart from aca­demic skills, now we have the abil­ity to ed­u­cate stu­dents on time and stress man­age­ment,” he said, adding that the 80 per­cent of coun­selling will be fo­cused more on in­ter­ven­tion part that can be pre­ventable.

He high­lighted that the stu­dents need a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment to thrive. “In CST, en­gi­neer­ing be­ing the top pro­gram, stu­dents find dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing their exam time,” he said. “They may face men­tal health and aca­demic pres­sures that in­flu­ence their well­be­ing.”

The stu­dent of­fi­cer of the Paro Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion, Tempa Gyelt­shen, said that the ad­vi­sors will be able to help stu­dents over­come bar­ri­ers re­lated to men­tal health and well­be­ing. “The stu­dents will be ben­e­fited from sup­port and ad­vice,” he said.

The fa­cil­i­ta­tors, Eva Van­tourn­hout and

Ka­trien Van­der­stap­pen from Vrije Univer­siteit Brus­sel in Bel­gium, said, pro­grams like these will help stu­dents stay healthy and look af­ter their well­be­ing. And this prac­tice is ex­pected to con­trib­ute to ev­ery­one’s men­tal health and well­be­ing.

Ka­trien Van­der­stap­pen said that stu­dents will feel better and will be mind­ful of their al­co­hol con­sump­tion. “The par­tic­i­pants shared con­cerns over sub­stance abuse and drug use,” she said. “We are very happy that this project is tak­ing place and it can be re­ally a shift for the young peo­ple.”

Like­wise, Eva Van­tourn­hout said that the col­leges in Bhutan face drop in func­tion­ing. “Time man­age­ment is a very im­por­tant skill for the stu­dents to make sure that they at­tend the classes,” she said, adding that the par­tic­i­pants have shared con­cern over re­duced at­ten­dance and as­sign­ments be­ing handed in late.

In this case, they said that the project will help the stu­dents to feel safe and se­cure in their col­lege en­vi­ron­ment. “They can talk to some­one who they can trust and bring changes in their lives and live with more com­fort­able life,” the fa­cil­i­ta­tors said.

Mean­while, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing launched the train­ing man­ual for a 10-day train­ing pro­gram that con­cluded on 15 Novem­ber at PCE. RUB is home to about 10,000 youth in the coun­try.

The coun­selling cen­ters will em­body a hy­brid of western coun­selling and psy­chol­ogy prin­ci­ples, and the Bhutanese con­cept of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness

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