Medical screening reveals new uni students suffer from anxiety and depressionView(s):
Five percent of students in the new batch that gained admission to the Faculty of Management, University of Peradeniya have severe mental issues.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Peradeniya, Prof Terrence Madhujith speaking to the Sunday Times said that the University is conducting psychological tests on new students gaining admission to the University in addition to a medical test.
The University has recruited a professional psychiatrist of the Department of Psychiatry as a part-time director of the new centre established to support and provide psychological support.
Five professional counsellors have also been recruited for support. The tests are conducted using the internationally-accepted DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) system.
Accordingly, they had conducted psychiatric and psychological tests on the new Faculty of Management batch who gained admission to the University, having sat for the GCE Advanced Level examination in 2021 (2022).
The results indicate that 5% of the 188 students were suffering from severe mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety and require special attention.
Some have even been identified as using drugs since school.
The decision to test was taken in light of a series of suicidal cases among University of Peradeniya students last year. “We are doing tests because those lives matter to us. They had mental disorders from the beginning, but we did not notice,” Prof Madhujith stated, adding that now they can monitor the students diagnosed with mental illness.
Such students, as well as new students, would be guided to a special programme which includes engaging in sports or religious activities, outbound training and developing soft skills, which did exist before but were disorganised and did not happen for the last few years due to Covid-19.
The tests on the new batch of the Faculty of Medicine are underway, and the University expects to conduct tests on every batch that gains admission to the University. They are considering doing the tests for other years as well.
It would also help the University to monitor ragging, he added, since 90% of the suicide cases were victims of ragging incidents, caused by alienation and subsequent depression.
Prof Sampath Amaratunge, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, explained that the University of Peradeniya had not notified them of it officially. However, he would be considering it since international universities are also conducting such tests for students. – SJA
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