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GANDERAL: On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) in collaboration with ‘The Inner Call’, organized a one-day awareness programme on ‘Young People and Mental Health In a Changing World’ at the designated Tulmulla campus of the varsity here on Wednesday. Registrar, Prof. Fayaz A Nika, Counsellor and Psychiatrist, Dr. Arif Maghribi Khan, transformational coach, Ms. Vandana Arora, Deputy Directorate of Students Welfare, Dr. Syed Zahoor Geelani, Coordinator, Department of IT, Er. Zahoor Ahmad, Secretary Inner Call Mr. Affan Yesvi, faculty members, students of the Departments of Information Technology and Physical Education also attended the programme.

Registrar, Prof. Fayaz A Nika in his presidential spoke to students on how to tackle stress through productive means. He urged the students to consciously inculcate a ‘be positive-stay positive’ attitude. Prof. Nika said that good mental health is a key component for living a dynamic life. He said the university has always encouraged its students to express freely. Prof. Nika spoke to students about maintaining the optimum work-life balance. He said the curriculum of the university was designed in such a way that students do not feel stressed.

Dr. Arif Maghribi Khan, gave a detailed overview of various mental health issues in Kashmir, especially those related to youth. He spoke to the students about simple and easy steps to understand the classification of psychiatric diseases, and the scenario in Kashmir. He also made them aware of the myths regarding psychiatry. A counselling session and group exercise was also organized for the students. Ms Vandana Arora, a transformational coach, engaged the participants at the awareness workshop in various exercises on mental health. She also held a session on meditation. The students later engaged in an interactive question answer session.

Deputy Directorate of Students Welfare, Dr. Syed Zahoor Geelani and  Coordinator, Department of IT, Er. Zahoor Ahmad while speaking on the occasion underscored the need to focus on mental health problems faced by the youth of Valley. They said that as a result of mental health issues, drug abuse and substance abuse had seen a worrying increase.

Addressing the participants, Secretary Inner Call Mr. Affan Yesvi, said it was a consistent effort on the part of his organization to raise awareness regarding the major issues faced by the youth. He stressed that there should be no stigma attached to anxiety, depression or other mental disorders, and the individuals suffering from it should opt for regular counselling. Inner Call offers counselling on mental health issues and how to deal with personal challenges at its central office located in Jawahar Nagar, he added.

He said that modern times are increasingly marked by nuclear families, where youth lack the support system provided by the grandparents and the larger family network. He said that in close-knit traditional societies, children grew up in an environment of sharing and caring. “But youth were becoming self-centered now. Hence there was an alarming increase in the cases of anxiety and depression.”