Stressed IT workers get chatbot counselling
More and more IT professionals in India are seeking chatbot therapy to help with their job concerns and redundancies
For months, Lovkesh Joshi was quietly terrified of losing his job as a manager at a top Indian tech services company. Clients were cutting their budgets. His manager told him not to worry, but it was hard not to when experts were predicting that millions of the country’s IT workers would be eliminated in the coming years.
Joshi didn’t want to burden his wife or friends with his problems so he turned to a chatbot therapist called Wysa. Powered by artificial intelligence, the app promises to be “loyal, supportive and very private,” and encourages users to divulge their feelings about a recent major event or big change in their lives. “I could open up and talk,” says Joshi, a 41-year-old father of two school-age children, who says his conversations with the bot flowed naturally. “I felt heard and understood.”
Joshi moved on to a job with a large rival outsourcer two months ago.
The upheaval in India’s $154 billion (Dh565 billion) tech outsourcing industry has prompted thousands of Indians to seek solace in online therapy services. People accustomed to holding down prestigious jobs and pulling in handsome salaries are losing out to automation, a shift away from long-term legacy contracts and curbs on US work visas. McKinsey & Co says almost half of the four million people working in India’s IT services industry will become “irrelevant” in the next three to four years.
Indians, like people the world over, tend to hide their mental anguish for fear of being stigmatised. That’s why many are embracing the convenience, anonymity and affordability of online counselling start-ups, most of which use human therapists.