Understanding Increased Anxiety With Dr. Anamika and Dr. Jallavi

“Every Chaos has its own equilibrium, and the equilibrium will come soon. Thus, we should be more hopeful and develop ourselves to be future-ready.”

Anxiety is an issue that has plagued the world along with the coronavirus. It is very difficult to cope with especially in such distressing times. Students are burdened by the chaotic market scenario and are very worried about their futures.

Studies have shown an increase in levels of stress and anxiety among students in the lockdown period. One such research was conducted by Dr. Anamika Sinha who is an Associate Professor at GIM and Dr. Jallavi Panchamia, who is an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPHG). In their study, 48% of the MBA students studied reported an increase in anxiety. The rest reported a similar level however the triggers for anxiety were different. 

To understand more about the mental well being of students as well as faculty members, we had a conversation with both of them. Their valuable inputs helped us understand the mental state of students as well as faculty, and how we can help them.

The Need To Understand Students

Our first question to them was about what droves them to conduct this research. 

Dr. Sinha informed that students in her social network would call her up to ask for recommendations or post on their profile for better reach on LinkedIn and otherwise would share how they were feeling and how they spent their lockdown. She explained that a few of the placement offers that the students were given were put on sabbatical by the companies that had hired them. There were committees comprising of faculty, immediate graduates, and senior alumni who were trying to re-place these students. 


She resonated very well with students, and thus, she decided that she would like to understand the psyche of as many MBA students as she could from different colleges.

Dr. Panchamia told us that after the placement of the students, the organizations and employers changed their terms and these were not in favor of the students. This triggered anxiety in students and induced a lot of stress as they had no plan of action for the future. On top of that, plenty of rumors were being circulated and there was a lot of misinformation being spread.

This rise in anxiety made both of them feel like conducting a study on it would benefit the students and the society. 

Importance of Campus Social Interaction And Simulating It Online

We then asked Anamika and Jallavi about the importance of social interaction that takes place on campus, and its importance in the emotional growth and well being of students. 

Dr. Sinha explained that in MBA, the classroom learning only comprises of 40-45% of learning, and the rest is comprised of team-work, group projects, etc. Thus, to try and incorporate seamless learning during the lockdown, they have used digital media platforms. 

Anamika compartmentalizes learning into 3 parts, curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular. She explained that curricular learning can be conducted online, but the students are likely to miss out on extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

Through these activities, the students learn various life skills like interpersonal relationships, management, politics, accepting failure, etc. Thus, faculty members are trying to innovate to conduct such activities for students through online platforms. They are trying their best to minimize the loss of learning to students.

Reasons For The Lack Of Counseling

We asked them why some students fail to approach counselors despite feeling the need for counseling. We also asked them what universities and faculties can do to provide counseling to students.


Dr. Sinha told us that their study found a lack of personal space in many Indian homes. Further, she explained how counseling is a very personal process. Students are not comfortable with dialing a random number and talking to a stranger about personal issues. 

Thus, they found out that it was easier for students that had already been introduced to the counselors to continue such counseling virtually.

Dr. Panchamia added that counseling involves two factors: accessibility and acceptability.  She told us that acceptability in India is an issue as people are still not comfortable in telling others that they are taking counseling.

“There is still a stigma attached to counseling and people who pursue counseling.”

The platforms to communicate and pursue counseling are available, it’s just that students are not aware of them. Hence, Jallavi told us that this can be improved and awareness can be spread. 

She further explained that in their research, they found that anxiety among students is usually short-lived. However, during this pandemic, there has been a surge in levels of anxiety. Usually, this anxiety can be overcome by talking, channeling this energy out, and being positive and constructive. However, in some cases, it may get critical. This is when students should opt for counseling. If it gets worse, they should contact a psychiatrist

Hence, universities should ensure good communication with the students. Moreover, faculty members should know when to hand the student over to a counselor. Students should be encouraged by faculty to undergo counseling when the anxiety levels go higher. 

Jallavi added that they have established a counseling system since before the pandemic, where students can approach the designated counselors appointed by the institute. However, during this pandemic, the face to face counseling could not be done.

Dr. Panchamia believes that students need to vent out and they need someone to express their emotions. However, their study found that students were not comfortable doing so with family members. Thus, they proposed a wholesome mechanism to promote mental well-being.


Dr. Sinha added that at GIM, they have tie-ups with online counseling platforms as well as counselors on the panel. Faculty members have also trained themselves in mental first-aid through various online platforms like Coursera. 

“We need to operate with trust, rather than distrust and we need to allow students to adjust to the new forum.”

In all the online classes that Anamika and her institution conducted, she found that students were really putting in a lot of effort to understand and be attentive

She added that students would also call or message the faculty more often and they would voice their concerns, understand how they can adapt to the online system, etc. 

Further, Dr. Sinha informed us that they have shifted their books online and the e-books can be downloaded from the online libraries. Hence, they are providing students with maximum available resources to cope and improve. 

Both of them told us how they have diluted professional boundaries and allow students to message anytime if they are unable to cope with anxiety. They’re constantly assuring students that they are always available for them. 

Beyond Teaching: Mentoring

Next, we asked them about the value of mentoring and how teachers can go beyond teaching and inculcate mentoring during these difficult times. 

Dr. Sinha told us that to cater to mentoring needs among students, GIM has a formal faculty mentor program besides which they have launched a program called Alumni Internship and Mentoring Program (AIM). Here, the alumni help the students with live projects as well as mentoring. 

Dr. Panchamia informed us that at the IIPHG institute, they have an active mechanism of mentoring where each faculty is allotted specific numbers of mentees, whom they hand-hold for 2 years. Further, they have 2 months of summer internships and 5 months of final year internship, where the mentor continues to guide them on a personal and a professional front. 

online counselling

They realize that mental well being is very important in the current times and the youngsters do not share everything with simply anyone. A designated mentor really helps them as students can go up to them at any time and ask for help and guidance, which the mentor provides responsibly, as shared by Jallavi.  

Understanding Coping Mechanisms

We asked them about the problems associated with certain coping mechanisms like junk food, and why students were inclined towards them. 

Dr. Sinha informed us that such mechanisms are addictive and many scientific studies are backing this claim. 

She added that students spend an average of 4-6 hours on Netflix and other such social media, which is addictive and unhealthy. 

Similarly, students eat a lot of sugar and Maida rich food, which is also addictive and can be detrimental to their health over time.  

Further, she told us about the two approaches that students have taken during the lockdown to battle anxiety. 

One of them is to upskill themselves and learn new things whereas the other approach is binge eating and binge-watching. She told us that there are positive as well as negative channels to alleviate anxiety, and those students that take up counseling tend to choose positive ones. She advises that students utilize the increased screen time to view online courses and materials instead of binge-watching television shows and social media. 

When asked if faculties too have fallen prey to harmful coping mechanisms, Dr. Panchamia explained that faculty hardly get the time and opportunity to binge-watch or binge eat as a mechanism to cope. 

learning new skills

Anxiety Among Faculty 

Our last question to Dr. Sinha and Dr. Panchamia was if faculties themselves are dealing with anxiety, how they can be helped and what practices can they adopt to stay healthy. 

When it comes to faculties, Anamika told us that the demand to upgrade themselves and their content takes up a lot of their time. While she does admit to getting more leisure time with her family and on social media due to work from home, the demand to upgrade is high and they end up working 10-12 hours a day to learn more and more about virtual education.

They need to undergo industrial consultation to get the latest trends in the industry.  

Dr. Jallavi mentioned that the faculty also experiences anxiety because of the pandemic crisis and they feel responsible to ensure that their work output is in place to explain work from home.

She added that a lot of faculties have contributed to conducting research during this lockdown period while also teaching online. 

Dr. Sinha mentioned that during her interaction with other faculty members with other institutes, each faculty would have a different story to tell.  

She further informed us that their anxiety levels in faculty would depend on the culture and support systems that the universities provide. She suggested that leaders at this hour must be empathetic and supportive of the changes that the faculties are coping with.

Further Dr. Sinha added that at their age, they have seen and dealt with enough crisis, disruption, and failure. Thus, their ability to cope is comparatively higher.  

“Every Chaos has its own equilibrium, and the equilibrium will come soon. Thus, we should be more hopeful and develop ourselves to be future-ready.”

She told us how she always started/re-started her career during years of recession (1996,2008) and she has always faced the challenge of equalizing her pay with the pre-existing market. Thus, another driver behind the research was to understand and make the students capable to acquire equal pay in the market in times of this recession.

physical activities to reduce anxiety

To combat anxiety and mental health issues, Dr. Sinha explained that she has started prioritizing her health in the last four months. She also spends a lot of time with her family and also enjoys watching TV at times. 

She is also upgrading herself and networking with international associations. Mentally, she has toughened herself and is ready to face whatever comes. Moreover, she has taken to spirituality. Chanting, meditation, and reading scriptures have helped her quite a lot. 

Dr. Panchamia told us that she practices yoga, walking, and meditation. She strongly feels that physical exercise is a great mechanism to battle anxiety. A lot of faculty members have taken this approach and they wish to cultivate this among their students as well through their studies. 

Our conversation with Dr. Anamika Sinha and Dr. Jallavi Panchamia was eye-opening and provided us with an insight into the lives of students as well as faculty.

Anxiety is a huge issue as of now and we do believe that the study conducted by them and their suggestions will surely help students as well as faculty.

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