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Sudden Increase in layoffs plunge techies into depression


"In IT there is no job security. I'm worried a lot about my family": This is the note a Pune-based techie wrote before he jumped to his death on Wednesday.

A man in his 60s says his daughter, who used to work with an IT firm, had suddenly gone silent. It was only when she went for counselling, her parents found she had lost her job but still "left for work" every day. 

The layoffs in the IT sector this year - from biggies like Wipro, Infosys and Tech Mahindra to smaller companies - have caught thousands of young professionals off-guard. 

Many are turning to psychologists and online counselling platforms to deal with anxiety and stress. 

YourDost, an online counsel ling and emotional wellness platform, launched a `Fired to Fired Up' session last month to deal with the surge in distress calls. It received some 260 calls on the toll-free number and 800 chats in just three days (June 29-July 1).

Among the calls received during YourDost's 3-day drive to address layoffs, 43% were from the IT industry. The maximum number of calls were from Karnataka (15%), followed by Maharashtra (12%) and Delhi (11%). Calls were also received from parts of the northeast, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh.

"The stigma of layoffs is the worst...Even those who have survived the layoff are worried if they will be the next to go," says YourDost cofounder and CEO Richa Singh.

Swati Premkumar (name changed) is in the latter category. Having been in IT services for the past decade, she was quite confident of her career trajectory until she saw her colleagues being sent home."When you see people around you being told to go, it hits you. Even if I get laid off, it won't affect me financially. The larger worry is answering parents, children and friends," she says. After six months of trying to deal with the stress on her own, she sought professional help.

Ravi Kumar (name changed) had been working with a large IT firm for several years before his entire team was laid off.

With a pregnant wife and family of four to look after, he is a very worried man. But even as he scouts for a job, Kumar has turned to online platform ePsyclinic for help.

"Self-esteem and self-worth are the most common issues they come to us with," says Shipra Dawar, founder of Iwill, powered by ePsyclinic.com. Until last month, the forum received 1-2 calls from former employees, now the number is 20-25, she says.

Many companies, too, acknowledge the problems. Says Richard Lobo, executive vice-president and head HR at Infosys, "The IT sector is going through structural challenges and anxiety around job losses is higher than what it usually is. When our employees (Infoscions) reach out for help, we have counselling sessions internally to help them cope with their concerns.

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