Authorities say the workshop, held on September 21 and 22, was meant to help first-year students acclimatise to their new surroundings and send a message to others that help is always at hand
In the wake of two deaths and an attempted suicide in a span of less than a year, officials at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to students.
According to IIT-B officials, the number of students seeking help from counsellors has increased over the years. Representation pic/Thinkstock
After bringing counsellors on board and ensuring they visit students in their hostels — helping them open up about academic and personal issues faced by them — the institute recently organised a two-day workshop for first-year students to help them ease into their new surroundings.
“The purpose was to help students adjust to this sudden change — from home to hostel. We wanted to help them understand that acclimatisation takes time and we are there for them,” said Soumyo Mukherji, dean of student affairs, IIT-B.
Mukherji added that the two-day workshop used to take place earlier, but had been discontinued for the past few years. “The senior counsellor realised that this initial dialogue with first-year students would help build a bond with them, encouraging them to seek help from us whenever they needed,” he said.
About 900 first-year students attended the workshop held on Monday and Tuesday, which also introduced them to various extra-curricular activities. The aim, authorities said, was to help students understand the need to maintain the right balance between academics and extra-curricular activities.
“Students need to understand that there’s no need to fret over academics. They must pay equal attention to their hobbies as well. We often come across students who get easily frustrated when they don’t do well in academics,” added Mukherji.
Help at hand
While two counsellors work on the IIT-B’s payroll, a third one has been hired on contractual-basis. As per figures provided by the institute’s officials, the number of students seeking help from counsellors has increased over the years.
At present, on average, two counsellors conduct 120 to 130 sessions a month. Of these, 25 sessions are dedicated to first-timers, while the remainder are follow-ups. Officials added that the number of students attending group workshops on stress management has increased by over 50 per cent due to word-of-mouth publicity, as most of the workshops have yielded positive results for distressed students.
“On an average, one counsellor meets about four-five students every day. But we don’t know how many of them are first-timers. In most cases, students opt for a follow-up. Even a single session makes a big difference. With whatever resources we have at our disposal, we want to reach out to all the students and help them resolve their problems,” said Mukherji.
He added that the institute is exploring newer ways of encouraging more dialogue between students and the authorities to better understand the root cause of stress among students.
>> June 2015: A 23-year-old MTech student, pursuing a degree in Earth Sciences, tried to end his life when he was alone in his room at Hostel 5. His mates claimed that after the initial attempt to commit suicide by hanging failed, the student popped some pills. He was immediately rushed to the IIT-Bombay Hospital and later to the Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, where he made a recovery.
>> May 2015: Jitesh Sharma, a third-year chemical engineering student, was found dead on the terrace of one of the hostels on May 2. The 21-year-old was reportedly suffering from depression and had been undergoing counselling for over six months. Sharma’s body was found around 7 pm on the terrace of Hostel 15-B. He, however, resided in Hostel 8. (Read full story)
>> September 2014: Aniket Ambhore (22), a fourth-year student pursuing a dual degree in electrical engineering, died after falling from the sixth floor of Hostel 13. Aniket was immediately rushed to Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar, where he was declared dead on arrival. It is still unclear whether this was an accident or a suicide. (Read full story)