Free helplines address pandemic anxieties

Many organisations are offering counselling for those worried over salary cuts, job losses, domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships
Last Updated 23 April 2020, 10:43 IST

Mahila Dakshata Samiti

This is a women’s special helpline started a week ago to provide free teleconsulting.

Shailaja Prakash, senior family counsellor, and another counsellor manage the helpline. They mostly address problems of emotional and physical abuse women are facing during the lockdown. “We just received a call about domestic abuse. Another was about lack of food, and we helped the caller with details of donors and NGOs,” she says.

Helpline: 98452 20614
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm

Indian Psychiatric Society

The Karnataka chapter of the Indian Psychiatric Society has a dedicated helpline to address Covid-19 pandemic. It is an initiative by a team called KANCIPS 2020 in association with Indian Psychiatric Society.

The tele-guidance service addresses anxiety, fear and restlessness triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, as also provides help for general sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, sleep disturbance, substance abuse, disease anxiety, and obsessions and compulsions. Check out the list of doctors offering free service on the official website www.ipskc.com/

People Tree Maarga

A special Covid-19 counselling helpline was set up two weeks ago by People Tree Maarga, which functions for an hour every day through the week.

Dr Satish Ramaiah, medical director, People Tree Maarga, says people overload themselves with news and information about the pandemic, and are not able to sleep properly.

“Those with extreme anxiety experience palpitations and other symptoms which scare them into believing that they are infected,” he says.

The helpline has received around 50 calls and a majority of callers are professionals. “We try to teach them some ways to deal with the stress,” he says.

Helpline: 080 4665 9999
Hours: 10 am to 11 am

Brief Relief

Heart It Out, a health tech startup, started the helpline ‘Brief Relief’ for people to pause and reflect. The free therapy service was initiated on April 1 and receives 10-25 calls a day.

The helpline is built on the Zoom platform and will soon be available over the phone. Nithya J Rao, co-founder and rehabilitation psychologist, says “We’ve received more calls from young people than the elderly, and more calls from men than women. The age range has been 16-65 years.”

Loneliness, boredom, uncertainty, and substance use withdrawal management are among the most common concerns. “For some people, there’s a difficulty in living away from their families and for some others it’s about living with dysfunctional families,” she says.

For details, email hello@heartitout.in or leave a WhatsApp text on 78925 51372.
Hours: 8 am to 8 pm

Tattva Counselling

This free helpline for low-income groups has been active for five years, and is functioning during the lockdown too.

Tasneem Nakhoda, psychotherapist, says, “We have been addressing concerns of domestic violence, jobs, children’s education, and gadget addiction. The number of calls has drastically reduced since the lockdown. Most callers do not have much privacy to speak since their families are around.”

During the lockdown, the centre has received distress calls because of salary cuts and the frustration of being at home, especially from those living in tiny houses.

Helpline: 99809 17459
Hours: 10 am to 6 pm

(Published 23 April 2020, 10:39 IST)

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