BENGALURU: The National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has been roped in to train the counsellors of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) helpline – 1097 — to provide psycho-social support to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) during the pandemic. The PLHIV could be at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus because of low CD4 count, increased viral load and an opportunistic infection like tuberculosis that they may have contacted in the recent past.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dr K Sekar, Registrar and Head of Centre for Disaster Management, said that NIMHANS, in alliance with the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, on July 30 agreed to train the counsellors of 1097 to provide psycho-social support to PLHIV. “The scenario is changing, and we have to move from providing psycho-social care to vulnerable sections of society; to now supporting them to cope with the emerging mental health issues arising due to the pandemic.
NIMHANS will train the NACO counsellorsin reaching out to the PLHIV community, especially those facing mental health issues,” he said. The Department of Disaster Management, NIMHANS will train the counsellors to assess the coping mechanisms of PLHIV. “Those above the threshold level will be referred to NIMHANS. We will address their mental health issues,” said Dr Sekar.
Meanwhile, NIMHANS has taken up “inter-ministerial role in providing psycho-social support to the personnel in various government departments like the Department of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Education and Home Departments. There are a large number of people, special groups, who are at risk. We are identifying them and providing them with timely psycho- social support,” added Dr Sekar.