Mental illness common on campus, academic pressure, anxiety most common cause, finds survey by IIT-Bombay magazineUpdated: Oct 18, 2020, 23:54 IST
A significant number of students at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), who were surveyed by student magazine Insight, said mental health problems were common in the institute. Academic pressure and anxieties about career are some of the top causes for mental health problems among students, finds the survey aimed at understanding students’ experience with mental health in the institute.
Of the 450 students, who responded to the survey, 85% said problems in mental health were common in IIT-B and 93% said mental health problems were real psychological problems. When asked about the possible causes for their mental health illness, 71.3% said academic pressure was the reason and 52.2% said decisions about professional future was the cause.
The survey, published in a special edition on account of the World Mental Health Day on October 10, registers anonymous responses from students to a range of objective and subjective questions on whether they had experienced negative emotions, for how long and reasons for feeling such emotions. It comes close in the heels of an article chronicling the personal experiences of alumni members with mental health that was published by Insight in September.
“The idea behind the special issue is to get people to talk about mental health and address the stigma around it,” said Amogh Gawaskar, chief editor of Insight IIT-B.
Students at IIT-B have the option of getting help in-house by approaching the student wellness centre which has nine counsellors. However, stigma and scepticism made students wary of seeking help, found the survey. When asked if students sought help while facing a mental health illness, 44.6% said they did not as they feared judgement and were sceptical of the effectiveness of counselling.
“The proportion of the students currently suffering from a mental disorder (35.9%) is the most crucial and requires active intervention,” read the article by Insight. To beat the stigma, Insight has now invited anonymous or candid accounts of students who are currently suffering from a mental illness or have suffered at some time on how to seek help and work through the illness. “These stories will be published on a self-help portal that will be launched soon. It will help people find a voice and navigate a mental illness,” said Gawaskar.
Juhu-based clinical psychologist Neha Patel said academic pressure was common among students and led to anxiety and depression. “Students, especially those at IITs, have worked their whole life to get into the institute. Competition is deeply ingrained in their psyches by the society and the parents. So when they are in the campus, pressures build-up to get the best job or outperform colleagues,” said Patel, adding that this anxiety also drives students towards drug use, which is further detrimental to mental health.
“The most important thing is to seek professional help. To take the pressure off, students should be encouraged to balance academics with other interests,” said Patel.