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With depression rampant among migrant labourers, Maharashta government ropes in counsellors

The Maharashtra government has now roped in the 30 counsellors, 28 psychiatrists and 36 psychiatric nurses. 

Published: 24th April 2020 08:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th April 2020 12:12 AM   |  A+A-

Migrant labourers take a break in front of a dhaba on National Highway 44 in Maharashtra, 5 km from Adilabad border

Migrant labourers take a break in front of a dhaba on National Highway 44 in Maharashtra, 5 km from Adilabad border

Express News Service

MUMBAI: Depression, phobia and insomnia. These are some of the complaints that many of the seven lakh migrant labourers stranded in various parts of Maharashtra are dealing with.

The Maharashtra government has now roped in 30 counsellors, 28 psychiatrists and 36 psychiatric nurses to address the issue. 

"The team of counsellors, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses are counselling these migrant workers. The district-level team is approaching these labourers and coounselling them on various issues," said Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope.

He said the unorganised sectors labourers are stranded in various parts of the state due to the lockdown. 

"These psychiatrists have counselled 47,000 workers so far. The government has provided them meals but the depression levels have been increasing among them. The fear about coronavirus has caused mental disturbances. They are desperately missing their home. We have employed the team of doctors who were earlier involved in counselling depressed farmers and discouraging them from committing suicides," Tope said. 

Dr Vikram Pachlore, a psychiatrist who counsels labourers and people from various strata of society, said that the psychoses and phobias have not only been increasing among the migrant labourers but in the business- and middle-class families also. 

"The uncertainty has increased about how long this lockdown will continue? What about their businesses, jobs and families? Hallucination cases have also increased. Earlier, liquor used to detoxify them, but the unavailability of liquor is worsening the situation. So, most of these labourers turned to painkillers as a medicine and other cough syrups to get relief from mental trauma," Pachlore said.

He said that these workers are people leading a hand-to-mouth existence and that has made it all the more troubling for them. 

"Depression has increased by 29 per cent with 42 per cent of the middle-class people in lockdown. More cases of insomnia and paranoia are being reported. There is a 38 per cent spike there. The government should either provide the migrant labourers with work where they are stranded or make arrangements for them to get home. The migrants are facing emotional traumas that urgently need to be addressed. The fear of death because of coronavirus and of losing work are driving them crazy," Dr Pachalore added.

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