This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pavithra Hari. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Deadlines, Workload, Assignments: The Never-Ending Juggles Of A College Student’s Life

Deadlines. Workload. Assignments. – the never-ending juggles of a college student’s life.

Professional students, they say. The education system makes sure that so-called professional students are treated worse than school students. The school students are at least some way or the other,  spoon-fed by their parents and teachers. But professional students are “adults”, they are responsible for their decisions and actions. Asking for advice leads to a provocative comment widely known as “grow up!”.

After the highly pressurised board exams and admission procedures and the anticipation for desired allotments, college life seems more appealing than ever. High expectations of freedom and fun college life, party nights and fests seem very exciting to a freshman.

The reality crashes in like a hurricane after a month of college life, especially if you are an introvert. The walls of the hostel rooms prompt you to flick through your Instagram posts so that you can keep track of the fun others are having. You are included in the night outs only if you are manipulative, funny or rich! Homesickness is another dilemma. You can’t just go up to your friends saying that you miss your family. They mock you for being such a baby.

You just don’t want to share your troubles and anxiety with your family during those routine calls, so you only have yourself to share feelings with.

Money matters more than anything else. You would love to go out for a film with your gang but end up saying that you have a headache since the hostel fee is due this month and you cannot call up mom asking for more money. And the consequences? You end up missing out on all the fun and keep staring at the stories they have posted. Cursing your life isn’t something new here.

Moving onto another scenario is that of the pressurised attendance at college. You’re an adult and you can make your own decisions. Well, why not curl up in your bed when you just don’t feel like going? Yeah, right. Here comes the next drama of submitting medical leave letters and doctor’s prescriptions. Is the faculty going to permit me a sick leave because I’m mentally exhausted? Which doctor is going to prescribe me a medical certificate to spring out of that situation, I wonder. Can’t blame the institute too, because let’s face it, perks are often misused.

Passions don’t matter unless you have a professional undergraduate degree in engineering or medicine or in the field of commerce. If your parents agree to your decision of flourishing as a writer, step one is completed. Step two comprises the grand entry of relatives and family friends who have all had failed acquaintances in the field of literature.

And that leads to the collapse of step one.

These might seem like small problems to deal with, but what if all the relatives come for a visit simultaneously? That’s when things get out of hand. Every little thing provokes your temper and irritates you.

Get ready to welcome a new member, depression.

You may be one of them or you might know someone battling it. They tend to stay quiet and feel vulnerable to grief all the time. Their mind tells them to push everyone away to fathom their thoughts and to gain a normal composure, but their heart urges for a shoulder to lean on.

They might have a lot of friends but they aren’t comfortable to confide such matters among closed ones because no one understands them better than another depression struck individual. They lose sleep, their diet becomes sloppy and thus, their physical health also weakens. Asking them to get out of that zone, even with good intentions, might lead to the worst. They don’t need anyone to give them solutions, they just want someone to pour their heart out to.

Would the faculty spare some time to listen to their problems? Well, never.

Education overweighs petty issues, they say. “Talk to your family and friends, you’ll be fine,” they remark. Mental health is taken for granted.

Organisations and committees are not what is required. People exist to help each other out. Don’t ridicule them and underestimate them as ‘just moody’. They are just going through a phase which isn’t their fault. If you come across people struggling with depression, understand them and don’t begin to blabber positive thoughts and a “we are there for you” propaganda. Let them know you are here for them, not just by supportive statements. Get them something to eat. Take them for a walk. Give them their space. Help them out with their assignments and lab records. Help them take a long nap.

Care. Nurture. That’s all that it takes.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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