Counselling and wellbeing support for RUB student available
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