Free helpline for those with exam fear

Free helpline for those with exam fear

With Board examinations already here, holding your nerves is the key to success, and parents must stand rock-like behind their wards as their close aides and confidants to bust their stress, psychologists and psychiatrists working with a Helpline point out. 

“Examinations are not only a test of skills but also of your nerves, of your ability to counter stress. The efforts of two years will come to naught if students allow stress to come in conflict with their exam preparations,” says Dr Ashok Chacko, the Regional Director of a Delhi-based Mental Health Helpline (1860 266 2345).

“It is important for the parents to fortify the support systems of their wards without being obtrusive or breathing down their necks. They must ensure that the environment at home is relaxed and not tense. Parents should avoid discussion on marks and targets. They should not fix their opinion about their wards’ capabilities on the basis of the marks they obtain.  On the contrary, they should be more concerned about the diet, adequate sleep, and regular and short break from study for their wards,” he points out.

More importantly, students must have a feeling that their parents are there to support them, rock-like, irrespective of the examination results, so goes his advice.
The Helpline which can be accessed by anyone in the country, was inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in October last year, and is a collaborative effort of the Vandrevala Foundation, Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA), St Stephen's Hospital and the Mar Thoma Church.

“A mild anxiety is necessary for better performance but when the anxiety becomes severe then it’s a problem,” says Dr Zaki Shah, a psychologist at the Helpline whose expert counselling has helped several callers overcome their anxiety.

According to him, one sure way of fighting examination-related stress is to keep more than one option ready in the post-examination scenario. “We appreciated a caller who sounded panicky. She is keen to do Economic Honours from a prestigious college of Delhi University. But if she is unable to get it, she has her option ready — a Law degree,” said Dr Shah. “We were able to soothe her frayed nerves by appreciating her for keeping her Plan B ready. She is feeling much better now.”
“Counselling can do a world of good for those under stress, be it students or their parents. Tips about proper sleep, diet and relaxation can have a positive impact.

Offering prayers or doing meditation can also be very helpful in busting stress,” says Dr Shah.   

The Helpline has made special arrangements like 24x7 service and assistance from expert counsellors who are trained to handle students and parents. The counsellors would also call students back for follow-up assistance. The best part is that it is absolutely confidential, anonymous and free of cost.

The Helpline is a three-tier system. Clinical psychologists trained in counselling are primary call takers. Calls are escalated to trained psychiatrists depending on their severity. In extreme cases, calls are passed on to senior and empanelled psychiatrists.

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