A few days after an IIT-Bombay student attempted suicide, the institute is planning a host of counselling activities in order to reach out to all students on campus. Officials have said that one of the main reasons for depression among students is the pressure to do well, and the worst kind of pressure comes from their families back home.
The fact they stay away from their families adds to the woes. According to figures revealed by officials at IIT-B, the number of students seeking help from counsellors has increased over the years. An average of 120 to 130 sessions in a month are conducted by two counsellors currently.
“Out of these 120-130 sessions, around 25 sessions are for students who are first timers and the remaining are follow-up sessions. The number of students attending workshops on stress has increased by more than 50%, as a direct result of awareness spread across the campus,” said Rashmi Uday Kumar, PRO.
‘Is enough being done?’
While officials said counselling is an ongoing activity and that they are thinking of new ways to reach out, students are worried that enough is not done to reduce the pressure to excel in the institute. “The institute has to take responsibility if it fails to put in place a grievance redressal mechanism, and a helpful environment when a student is in trouble,” said a student.
Some students were also unhappy with the institute’s “emotionless” approach. On May 2, 2015, Jitesh Sharma, a third-year chemical engineering student, reportedly depressed and undergoing counselling for six months, was found dead on the terrace of a hostel. “We had asked for a condolence meet on campus, but it was written off.
We were told that the director has expressed his condolences and a committee was set up to look into the matter, so there was no need for a condolence meet. They are least bothered,” said another student. However, Soumyo Mukherji, dean, student affairs, said they are hiring more counsellors. “We have already shortlisted some candidates and, accordingly, they will be placed on campus for the benefit of students.
We are also working on using social media to reach out to more students,” he said. Counsellors will also write to the parents of each student and ask them not to put pressure on the students with their studies. However, students questioned the counselling sessions. “The institute may or may not be responsible when students take such extreme steps, but how the administration reacts is important. There is a need for change in the way our problems are treated,” said a student.