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Suicide case pushes IMA Karnataka to set up helpline for doctors

To provide 24X7 mental health services to medicos battling pressure, depression, anxiety

Published: 28th August 2020 06:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th August 2020 06:25 AM   |  A+A-

File picture of doctors and health workers on protest after Dr Nagendra (inset), a health officer, ended his life in Mysuru | express

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The Indian Medical Association (IMA), Karnataka State Branch (KSB), has launched an “IMA KSB Psychiatry Cell” meant for doctors across government and private sectors. This comes in the wake of the suicide of Dr Nagendra, taluk health officer. Apart from organising programmes and online talks, the main purpose is to provide 24x7 mental health services to medicos battling pressure, depression, anxiety, etc.

“We want to reduce suicidal tendencies among doctors undergoing depression, stress faced due to working for four-five months without leave, lack of relaxation, inability to meet family owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and pressure exerted by higher officials,” said Dr Srinivas S, secretary, IMA Karnataka. The mobile numbers of psychiatrists manning the 24/7 free helpline will be shared with 176 branches of IMA including 26,000 members so as to provide counselling and medications, if required.

A core committee of psychiatrists has been formed and the cell will expand to include more psychiatrists from each district, who can provide their services. Stress has increased due to increased professional demands and responsibility during the pandemic, humiliation and pressure by authorities, decreased income and failure to balance work and life, said Dr Ganesh Prasad, one of the core-committee psychiatrists.

“We will offer tele-psychiatric services and they can meet us too. In the case of Dr Nagendra, he lacked a support system. If he had reached out for counselling, he could have been helped,” Dr Prasad said. While on one hand the government is giving guidelines, protocols and putting pressure on medicos, on the other hand, patients’ families have high expectations from doctors. The family members expect them to work magic even in cases where the patient may not survive, said Dr Prasad. The cell will have its first virtual talk by Dr Raghuram, Professor of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, on the topic “Responding to suicide...the way ahead.” It will be held at 11am on August 30 on Zoom.



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