In its attempt to bring down the number of suicides in the institute, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi might soon begin to offer free online counselling from the next semester. It will not be an internal counselling but a service provider who will help the students at the institute. However, the existing on-campus counselling services will continue as it is.
The institute currently has counselling sessions 5 days a week. “We currently have more than 1,000 students attending counselling sessions and just three counsellors. They sit five days a week from 9.30 am to 5 pm and their schedules are packed. We’re in talks to start online counselling from the next semester. This would help in reaching out to more students since many don’t come because of the stigma attached to seeking psychological help,” Associate Dean, Student Welfare Sangeeta Kohli told the Indian Express. The service would allow students an option to reach out to therapists on an online platform.
Many in the authorities feel that the students are possibly being tempted to commit suicide due to academic pressure, the Indian Express reports. There have been several instances of students ending their lives in the recent past. PhD scholar Manjula Devak was found hanging in her room on May 30 but the IIT Director had then just said that she took the harsh step owing o her ‘personal problems’. Earlier in March too, a first year student allegedly jumped from the hostel building, in an apparent attempt to commit suicide. He survives but fellow students claimed that it was due to academic stress.
The idea of online counselling session comes from IIT-Madras which started such a service among the IITs. The service at IIT Madras working in collaboration with YourDOST.
Speaking about the reason for the stress, Dean Students Affairs, TR Sreekrishnan said that it is most difficult for first-year students to handle the academic pressure. He adds that since students work very hard to get into IIT, they want to relax after getting the admission and when they can’t keep pace with the studies, they are not able to handle it. “In the first semester, particularly, many of them don’t know how to handle it. Once they don’t perform well, they start feeling the pressure,” he said.