Students of both public and private universities in the capital and its outskirts are not getting proper mental health services for lack of adequate psychiatrists.
Some universities offer on-campus personal counselling at their counselling centres, but the lack of psychiatric care is worrisome since many university students are at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health problems.
Campus sources said Dhaka University provides counselling services to the students and employees at its counselling and guidance centre on the third floor of the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC).
But the centre reportedly lacks adequate counsellors. It has only one full-time psychologist and 30 part-time counsellors for around 33,000 students and over 7,000 employees of the university
Dhaka University Counselling and Guidance Centre director Mahjabeen Haque told daily sun the university provides counselling services to the students suffering from mental health problems.
However, Dhaka University also produces psychologists at its two departments-- Clinical Psychology, and Educational and Counselling Psychology departments.
“Part-time counsellors are employed at its counselling and guidance centre.Usually, the master’s class students of the aforesaid departments work at the counseling centre as interns,” she said.
“On average, each counsellor provides psychotherapy/counselling services to around 100 mentally sick students, staff and their children every month,” she revealed.
It is the demand of the students to appoint full-time counsellors at the DU counselling centre.
Saifun Nesa Zaman, the lone full-time counsellor at the centre, said mental health problems have mounted among the university students in recent time. “In some instances, some of them have committed suicide or tried to commit suicide,” she informed.
“We are trying our best to render better services to the mentally sick pupils, but because of lack of adequate counsellors, we cannot devote enough time to student care individually,” she further disclosed.
Tariqul Islam, a student of Dhaka University Kabi Jasimuddin Hall, said the university authorities should appoint more skilled full-time counsellors. This is because, most of the apprentice counsellors leave the centre on completion of their study at the university.
As per Jahangirnagar University website, the university has its own students counselling and guidance centre on the first floor of the TSC.
But in reality, the centre has been crippled due to lack of adequate psychologists. At present, the centre has only two psychologists—one for girls and the other for boys. The university has around 16,781 students, 755 teachers and 1,430 employees.
Subhashish Kumar Chatterjee, who works as a psychologist at the centre, said, “At least five more psychologists should be appointed to render proper treatment to the sick students daily.”
At North South University (NSU), there is a student counselling and guidance centre that provides counselling services to its around 22,000 students, faculty members and staff with the help of two psychologists only.
NSU public relations officer Mahmudul Hassan said a process is underway for appointment of two more psychologists.
The centre deals with educational related problem, maladjustment to university life, lack of motivation, lack of communication, low self esteem, interpersonal relationship crisis, peer and family difficulties, depression, personality disorder, anger management, stress management, inclination to commit suicide, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), drug-related problem, physiological disorder due to psychological disturbances, sexual assault and sexual concern and other personal issues, he said.