NGO launches toll-free helpline for mental health counselling amid Covid-19

The helpline can be reached between 10 am-4 pm daily. It is a toll-free service and offers counselling in English, Hindi, Konkani and Marathi.

People facing distress and other mental health issues amid the ongoing pandemic and frontline workers who have been working on ground over a year now can now access counselling and psychological support by dialing a toll-free number.

The COVID-19 Well-being Center launched by NGO Sangath last May now has a toll free helpline 011-41198666 for free telephone-based counselling for the general public, youth and frontline workers in need of psychological support.

The helpline can be reached between 10 am-4 pm daily. It is a toll-free service and offers counselling in English, Hindi, Konkani and Marathi.

“We have all been impacted by Covid in a range of different ways and it’s not just alright but essential to ask for help if you need it. Our virtual Well-being Center offers a range of options for help – listening circles you can join to talk about your own experiences and listen to others to build solidarity; free counselling sessions and a range of self-care resources that people can use to support themselves and those around them. We want you to know you are not alone – there are places and people you can reach out to,” says Pattie Gonsalves, Project Director, It’s Ok To Talk at Sangath and leading the COVID-19 Well-being Center.

Prof Abhijit Nadkarni, Co-Director, Addictions Research Group, Sangath said that while the physical health effects of COVID are being dealt with, it’s important that the pandemic’s impact – both short term and long term – on psychological and emotional wellbeing are not neglected.

“The launch of our virtual wellbeing services is our small contribution to the global efforts in dealing with the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on all our lives; more so in some than others. We are particularly keen to provide support to frontline healthcare workers who have been dealing with this stressful situation with fortitude,” said Prof Nadkarni.

Group Listening Circles are a confidential and safe space for a small group of people to meet and listen to each other’s experiences of dealing with COVID-19 with the aim of building solidarity and drawing strength from each other. These are moderated by experienced mental health practitioners and organised weekly in Hindi and English.

The Centre also organises biweekly Listening Circles specifically for frontline healthcare workers. Self-care and mental health resources that provide helpful, practical and evidence-based tips and strategies to manage day to day stress, cope with feelings of depression and anxiety and to cope with grief and loss.

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