"Taking care of one’s mental health is the first step to self-care," say counsellors and therapists who are not stopping for the pandemic and providing online sessions all across the country, for free.
The pandemic has set us all back on our heels, both professionally and personally. While using this time to learn a new skill or to just get some R&R in is what a lot of people have turned to, anxiety about the future and the concept of staying at home for days on end has also created a need to address mental health.
“The lack of certainty about what lies ahead, has been a constant source of anxiety for many. Most of my sessions boil down to the same question — ‘What is my future?’ Among other mental health issues, the situation has led to heightened depression, anxiety and stress among people, and I am seeing it in people who live alone as well as with their families,” says Soumya Srikumar, a Bengaluru-based medical social worker with over 20 years of experience as a counsellor, who provides free counselling sessions online.
Many such counsellors, mental health practitioners and organisations have come forward to provide their services free of cost. In just a click, one can now get the help they need through video and tele-counselling sessions from all across the country.
The Association of Psychiatric Social Work Professionals (APSWP)
From online psychosocial support to mental health services, APSWP has formed a list of experienced mental health professionals from all across the country. In addition to clearing misconceptions about COVID-19 to helping people navigate through self-isolation, these experts are also providing specialised help in various mental health issues.
You can access the contact details of the professionals here
The Alternative Story
The social enterprise, focused on a last-mile approach to therapy and counselling, has prepared a list of trainee counsellors that are providing online therapy sessions free of cost.
These trainee counsellors are completing their Master’s in Counselling Psychology with Sampurna Montfort College and Sampurna Institute of Advanced Studies, and will be providing their services under the supervision of trained counsellors, covering an array of mental health issues for adults, children, persons from the LGBTQIA+ community, senior citizens as well as those with persons with learning or physical disabilities.
You can find the details here.
Mental health government helpline with NIMHANS
The government of India, in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, has launched a toll-free helpline number for those who are facing various behavioural challenges.
“We are under a lockdown and behavioural issues are very important under such situations. It is a new process…NIMHANS has launched a toll-free number. I request everyone to fight unitedly against this disease so that if we see any mental health issues, then all the institutes are equipped to provide you with necessary support,” said Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Health, in a press briefing.
To reach out to them, call 080-46110007.
The Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP)
In order to tackle mental health issues amid the outbreak, the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP), through psychological tele-counselling, is connecting people with prominent therapists and psychiatric professionals, from all across the country.
One of their counsellors, Megha Rathi, who has been practicing in Kolkata for the past 9 years, says, “I receive almost 25 to 30 calls every week now and many of them are stressed or depressed due to the current situation. But, free services like these help to mend that gap. Now more people are coming forward to acknowledge and talk about mental health. Plus, the aspect of tele-counselling gives many another layer of confidentiality and access to safe space.”
Reach out to IACP here
MPower and BMC
The Maharashtra government, along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and MPower, a mental health counselling centre, has launched a 24/7 helpline, that gives one access to trained and experienced clinical psychologists, mental health counsellors and psychiatrists, for free.
To book a session, call 1800-120-820050
Project Mumbai in association with Prafulta, a psychological wellness centre, has started an initiative called the Counselors on Call that provides emotional and psychological support to anyone in need. With a list of experts just a call away, they are operating for 12 hours, every day.
You can reach out to them, here
“Amid all of this, a positive streak is the increased focus on awareness about mental health. In addition to this volunteering service, I have also been involved in various mental health awareness campaigns for parents and children. Starting a conversation and destigmatizing therapy or mental health has been the first step towards a positive change,” adds Rathi, emphasising the need to step back, take a deep breath and get professional help.
Images courtesy: Shutterstock
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)