BENGALURU: The coronavirus has impacted all sectors -- economic, social, educational, employment, political and cultural -- and has also taken a toll on the mental health of the people. To address anxieties, concerns, fears and apprehensions, psychologists in Bengaluru have launched Swasti, a tele-counselling helpline, which will be operated by clinical and counselling psychologists. The helpline is open to all from students to migrants and to people in distress. One can reach out at 08047186060.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, RItu Chugh, a counsellor, said, “The Swasti helpline is available in all the languages, people can just call and opt for any language and we will help them out. This just does not stop at mental issues, but we are even open to providing them with different services like details about hospitals or other Covid-related questions.” Started jointly by organisations like the UNICEF, Karnataka Child Rights Observatory,
Association of Health Psychologists, Bengaluru Psychology Forum, Karnataka Professional Social Workers’ Association and Dr Reddy’s Foundation, the helpline currently has 75 counsellors, who have volunteered to help people in need of counselling. Dr Manika Ghosh, who is heading the initiative, said, “We are already operating in other states, but this time we have extended it to Karnataka. Even in case of problems like food, assistance to elderly, child problems, migrant workers, it will be directed to the concerned department and the support will be provided.
We will listen to their problems and bring in a solution.” Recently the helpline got a call from a parent stating that her child below 10 years of age is frustrated with staying indoors and wants to go out and play, and when the child gets the chance runs out, causing anxiety to parents due to the spread of the Covid-19. Another call received was of a student who had one exam paper to write but couldn’t due to Covid-19, and is now worried if he could get into a good college.
The counsellors patiently listen to them and talk to them about it and give them tips on time and health management and advise them on how they can snap out of anxieties by keeping themselves engaged.
Soon, Swasti will also be open to frontline workers who require counselling. “The Home Minister of Karnataka has said the mental health of frontline workers like doctors and nurses is also of utmost importance as they work under immense pressure. We will start counselling them too,” added Dr Manika.