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Exam time: Dial a helpline to overcome stress

Monday February 06, 2012 12:38:19 PM, Shikha Nehra, IANS

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CBSE starts counselling for board exams

In an attempt to address anxieties of students and parents, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will start from Wednesday the first phase of counselling for those appearing for board examinations this year.  »

New Delhi: It's that time of the year when tension runs high, anxiety grips the minds of parents and students who are concerned about just one thing -- board exams! But help is just a call away as many helpline numbers are active to overcome exam stress.

"The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) started its helpline Feb 1 to help students deal with anxiety and syllabus issues, suggest time management techniques and provide career guidance," Rama Sharma, spokesperson of the exam controlling body, told IANS.

"It is our first phase of counselling for those appearing for board examinations this year," she added. The exams begin in March and end mid-April.

"There is a make or break junction synonymous with board exams. Students need to make realistic evaluation of the situation. We make them understand that exams are not the end but just another milestone in their lives," Sharma said.

The helpline can be accessed at toll-free number 1800-180-3456 between 8 a.m. and midnight. The number will be opertional till April 16.

"The helpline will resume when the results are out. In the first phase, we will help students during the preparations and in the second phase we will counsel students who feel low after not scoring well," the spokesperson said.

According to psychologists, soaring expectations, the urge to secure a place in college or even getting the choice of stream in school lead to stress in students. But the widening gap between parents and children adds most to the pressure.

"Children need an outlet where they take their problems," Sandeep Vohra, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Apollo Hospital, told IANS.

"When stress levels go beyond the child's endurance, they become non-communicative, lose interest in everything and start withdrawing from family and social life. Students may consider suicide an easier option than facing their parents and relatives after failure," he added.

According to statistics by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2,479 students committed suicide due to failure in 2010. Of them, 2,057 were in the 15-29 age group. The remaining students were out of this range.

Experts feel it is important for parents to identify the behavioural changes their child is going through and consult a counsellor if the child is withdrawing or hesitating from confiding in.

It is not just the CBSE helpline that is a saviour for students. NGOs such as Snehi and Aasra have also been running exam helplines for students in distress.

"Students come to us when other alternatives do not work. We are not critical or judgemental," said Johnson Thomas, director of the Mumbai-based helpline Aasra.

"We just try to get them talking about their issues and empower them to take positive decisions which enrich their lives, rather than doing anything reckless," he added.

While Aasra's 24X7 helpline can be reached at 91-22-27546669, Snehi runs Disha exam helpline on the number 011-65978181. Disha is active from Feb 1 till March 3.

"In 2011, we attended 1,582 calls related to exams stress. Out of these 1,403 callers were students who were psychologically distressed and emotionally perturbed," Snehi director Abdul Mabood said.

"We also received calls from 179 parents and relatives of students and helped them to handle situational stress," he added

School principals echo the opinion of sensitising parents, a key to deal with emotional turmoil that students could get into during this time.

Said Madhulika Sen, principal of Tagore International, Vasant Vihar, south Delhi: "Parental pressure is a major reason for exam stress. Therefore, we also counsel parents of Class 12 students. We tell them that pressurising the child to perform better will only worsen things."

(Shikha Nehra can be contacted at






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