Health and Education departments have been challenged to work together to introduce counselling courses in teachers’ colleges throughout the country.
This would be beneficial for teachers who not only educate but have to deal with the mental health of a child.
Counselling students helps to instill discipline in them to become better persons.
Schools throughout the country including higher tertiary institutions have experienced a rise in disciplinary cases with students as a result of alcohol and drug consumption.
Whilst disciplinary actions are taken against students who break school rules, their behavior remains the same, leaving the social problems unsolved.
But there is hope of changing this trend, as staff of Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI), who participated in a week-long workshop on mental health found out.
The workshop was the first of its kind and was facilitated by mental health experts from the social change and mental health division of the Health Department.
Fifteen staff members took up the course, which was basically on counselling adolescents.
Principal of DBTI Fr Wie Dec told The National that he initiated the course because the school’s administration had noticed that first-year students were going in with alcohol-related problems.
“I was inspired by some teachers to be a good principal, to help students,” he said.
“We have only two counsellors to cater for 430 students and so I thought we would try and take a different approach.”
Fr Wie acknowledged the contribution by chief psychiatrist, Dr Uma Ambi, who also brought in representatives from the Narcotics Bureau to facilitate at the workshop.
He called on the Health and Education departments to work together to have this kind of course as part of the curriculum in teachers’ colleges.
The participants were awarded certificates after the workshop and are now looking forward to helping students.
Dian Biaun, an electronics lecturer, told The National that she found the course to be essential.
“During the teaching process, we are educating a person,” she said.
“The person cannot learn if he or she is experiencing mental problem.”
Jeremome Oko, a lecturer in mathematics, said: “Working with young people on a daily basis is a challenge.”
He said he had been counselling before he took up the course, however, he did not use the right techniques.
He said the skills he learnt from the course would help identify problems faced by students.