Their jobs gone, India’s young seek out psychiatristsFebruary 1st, 2009 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Bangalore/Mumbai, Feb 1 (IANS) Laid off after eight years as a successful IT professional, Rajiv Chander Das is undergoing counselling at a psychiatric clinic. Experts say Das is one of scores of youths who are battling depression in the wake of the global financial crisis.Across India’s major cities, once successful professionals are seeking medical help after either losing jobs or fearing possible job losses.
No one seems to know precisely how many in India have received their pink slips, but the numbers are estimated to be in thousands.
“These people are under significant stress. If laid off or while facing the threat of getting fired, these individuals often end up battling depression and are often anxious wrecks,” Sameer Malhotra, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.
Malhotra said that the number suffering from stress-related problems had shot up since recession destroyed the financial surety of people employed in a variety of industries including IT.
“Now we see 20 to 40 people each day. The number of patients in their mid-20s has gone up. These are mostly people faced with job uncertainties or a career crisis,” Malhotra explained.
Bangalore-based software engineer Rajiv Chander Das, who lost his job two months ago, said that being without work was a shock.
“I was employed with a top IT company till two months back. Today I am jobless. It was a rude shock. I am worried that if I don’t get a job soon, I will face severe financial crisis as my bank balance is fast waning,” Das said.
“I am trying my best to get re-employed but the chances seem bleak. Moreover, it is hard to switch over to a new career after being a software professional for almost a decade.”
Das is, however, lucky. He enjoys his family’s support. “They are helping me mentally and monetarily,” said Das, without naming his last company.
Like Das, IT professional Minati Bhatt too lost her job four months ago. She is undergoing counselling at a psychiatric clinic in Bangalore.
“I am uncertain about my future. Initially, I used to have panic attacks. Now that I am undergoing counselling, I am much better. Help is also at hand from family members,” said Minati.
In Bangalore, the hospitals are yet to calculate the number of such patients. But sources in different institutions say there is a clear rise.
“In the past six months the number of professionals from IT and allied services seeking psychiatric assistance in our hospital has gone up manifold. Many also come for medical help and counselling, fearing they will lose their jobs. A few with acute depression have already lost their jobs,” B.N. Gangadhar, a professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bangalore, told IANS.
“After counselling and medical aid, many have improved. But some are too shocked to even believe that they don’t have a job. Youngsters should know that losing a job is not the end of life,” said M. Srihari, a psychiatrist with the Bangalore Medical College.
The global meltdown has hit Indian industry hard, including sectors such as manufacturing, cement and steel. According to one official estimate of November 2008, about 50,000 jobs were scrapped during August-October.
Leading IT and BPO companies say they have their own set of counsellors to help employees deal with stress and anxiety.
Psychiatrist Malhotra said he often comes across corporate professionals in their mid-20s on the verge of being fired.
“I can’t tell names… but one man’s situation was critical. He had suicidal tendencies. He was always restless, suffered anxious fits and kept comparing himself with friends who were doing better,” he said.
Malhotra said such patients needed support from friends and family — and a positive outlook to tide over hard times. Medicines, he said, were not enough.
“We counsel them that they should study further or opt for a change in career and focus on their area of interest, but more importantly diversify their financial assets to feel economically secure,” Malhotra said.
Compared to the rest of their country, Mumbai appears to have taken the crisis stoically, a leading psychiatrist in the city said.
“I talked to a hardware engineer who now services home computers and laptops using his expertise. He earns less than half his previous pay, but he is mentally stable and occupied,” Harish Shetty said.
There are more such cases. A 27-year-old married woman call centre employee now teaches English. An employee of a former realty firm operates from home — as a real estate consultant. A sacked 4-star-hotel assistant chef vends masala dosa in a suburb, said Shetty.
Shetty added that retrenched employees were not the only ones seeking help. “Even guilt-ridden management personnel, recruiters and people from accounts and other key departments come to us.”
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