As lakhs of students across the state get set to take the HSC board exams starting on Tuesday , counsellors are working overtime to help them beyond the academics. Mental health experts have just one advice for the students: Relax.

On February 28, nearly 3.4 lakh students in Mumbai division, which also includes Thane, Raigad and Palghar, will appear for English paper. The board has set up 10 counselling helplines that have been ringing constantly over the past few days. Similarly , iCALL, a helpline of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), has been receiving 75 to 100 calls every day .

“We have been receiving over 100 calls every day . A lot of them are from students who are prepared for the exam but are still scared. There are students who want tips on time management and then there is a section of students calling with technical doubts,“ said Pawan Gaikwad, a counsellor appointed by the state board. He added that they are also attending to stressed parents and pranks calls.

Mental health professionals said it is necessary that students understand that the board exam is not the most important exam in life.“The board exam marks do not count down the line. Once a student is successful in life, which they can be irrespective of what they score in SSC and HSC, nobody is bothered about the boards.Parents need to help children understand this. With less pressure, the students will only perform better,“ said clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany .

Psychiatrists say parents should create an environment at home that would allow students to relax before the big day . “Discussions on studies should be avoided at dinner table and parents must try to crack jokes with the children so they can unwind. Parents must also avoid angry outbursts which could stress the child. Besides, they should also keep children away from calls by curious relatives and avoid discussing the paper after the student has appeared for it,“ said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty .