“For the past few months, particularly after the second wave stuck, I have been getting frequent calls from friends and my past clients to counsel and take few sessions of therapy for people who are under isolation and for people who have lost their loved ones. One client suggested me to make an online portal for people who can book an appointment with prior notice. This way we can help more bereaved people. This idea of reaching and helping more people developed into psychhelp.in.
I discussed this with my colleagues and other members of the fraternity. Ten members have joined the initiative who are Clinical psychologists, Counselling psychologists and rehabilitation counsellors.
Our free initiative started with an unemployed youth who was preparing for exams. He mentioned that he couldn’t afford any fee. Instead of ignoring him, we appreciated him for reaching out for help.
For now, we are doing free counselling through references given by our clients. And few references come through friends and social media platforms. The cases we have dealt with till now are elderly people who live alone, people in social isolation facing anxiety issues, students who are uncertain about their future. For the cases of major depressive disorders, we are referring them to visit a hospital near them for immediate assistance.
Amidst the current Covid crisis in the country, we are looking forward to joining hands with more mental service providers across the state to help people needing immediate support.
Mental health should always be a priority be it in a pandemic or normal circumstances. But during these times, each individual has been suffering from distress. Humans are social animals. We make social connections as a part of our lives. Social isolations, strict lockdowns have made us worry more, creating another wave of the mental health crisis. People who have been infected and sustained the virus, also have many neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Long-covid has symptoms of chronic fatigue, irritability. These symptoms affect productivity in the working group and can cause poor performance of children at school. Such is a time when mental health service providers should be available at ease.
Institute for Mental Health, Erragadda, is an esteemed institute for mental health services in state and country. I was fortunate to work with patients in intensive care, Criminal ward and outpatient basis. The most important thing I learnt there was the importance of clinical analysis of the patient and then proceeding with prognosis. As the medical infrastructure was unaware of the dynamics for the treatment of Covid-19 in the initial stages, the same was with mental health services who were untrained in dealing with such new circumstances. No one in the past century had treated a patient who has been in isolation due to a pandemic.
The entire support system needed a new approach.Therefore, transforming such an in-person experience into a 2D screen on a phone or computer was a major challenge for me and many psychologists in India today. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. To survive in life challenges, we should not only be the fittest but also prepare ourselves to change!”