Nivedita (name changed), an MBA student, committed suicide a couple of years ago. She had been taking anti-depressants for a year before that. However, before her parents could take her for regular counselling, she took the extreme step.Pavithra (name changed), had gone to a counsellor to help her friend come out of depression. However, in a year she herself was in need of medication and regular counselling.The number of students who are affected by anxiety, depression and even commit suicide seems to be on the rise in the city.Psychologists in the city say that the number of students who come to them are increasing. Earlier, people considered such problems as taboo and many serious problems went unnoticed. But, with greater awareness, this social stigma is disappearing.

Though there could be different reasons for issues of depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, sleep disorders and suicide, these could be addressed with professional support.Students who take the extreme step because of broken relationships do so more to seek attention than with the intention to end their lives. Communication is a huge problem here. They are not able to share their feelings with family or friends. Some students feel burdened due to financial problems or academic performances. They do not share these issues with the fear that they might be mocked upon by friends and society. Increase in use of social websites is also disrupting the mind as students lose touch with reality.” says Dr. Lakshmanan from Cognito Academy.

Steps are being taken at different level to reach out to students in distress. There are mobile counsellors who go to government colleges and schools. The University Grants Commission has mandated that all colleges should have counsellors on their campus.“We have a counselling cell which is part of the Social Work department. It works in the client and counsellor relationship where students are considered clients. Students are made aware of such a service available at the college and they voluntarily come to discuss their issues, if any.

In cases where they do not come on their own, the head of the department or other faculty bring them to our notice. Major problems that students face are related to family matters. Students with single parents or who do not have parents seem to be more affected. They find it hard to adjust to new environment or to have healthy relationships,” explains A. Alagarsamy, head of the Department of Social Work of Sri Krishna Arts and Science College.Despite these measures students hesitate to talk freely about such issues. “Colleges should take psychological issues seriously. They should look at promoting holistic learning. The passion and involvement of students need to be rekindled and they need to feel belonged. A strong support system in colleges is required to motivate and help students develop their internal well being,” says P.K. Saru, director of Asha Counselling and training services.