The 21 -day lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has created many changes in our life and routine. The confinement to our homes and the constant worry about our safety and that of our loved ones make us anxious, sad and often depressed. Acknowledging this, several organisations offer free counselling to help people grapple with their fears.
The Department of Psychology, Rathinam Group of Institutes
Covid Mind Support is an initiative launched to provide mental and emotional support. "It is a difficult time for everyone and taking care of mental health is very important. When I suggested the idea of providing free counselling, I got a good response from my colleagues and the management. We launched the service on March 27th," says Sajeeth Kumar, head of the department. The team has seven psychologists and they provide sessions over phone calls and WhatsApp.
Sajeeth says that he has received nearly 20 calls so far. "The callers come from different backgrounds and most of them are older people who live alone. Some are worried about their health while others are anxious about the safety of their children living elsewhere," he says. Sajeeth advises people to limit social media activity, eat healthy and sleep for at least eight hours every day. "I also recommend doing exercises and talking to family and friends," he says. Sajeeth has formed a team with his students to make memes with awareness messages on mental health that they post on their social media pages. "I once got a call at 11:00 pm. The gentleman was worried and couldn't sleep and I helped him," he says. Covid Mind Support will offer its service till the pandemic settles down.
Call 9500750095, 8883784546, 9942789480, 9791615880, 8608575262, 9629920112 or WhatsApp 7708019222 .
The Tamil Nadu Association of Clinical Psychologists
The association has volunteers assigned for every district in the state. "We have a WhatsApp group and the decision was taken following a discussion there. There are 120 volunteers across the state and and we formed teams to handle the cases," says Thamilselvan P, who works as an assistant professor in the department of psychology at PSG College of Arts and Science and is one of the five volunteers from Coimbatore.
- Dr K Selvaraj, Professor of Psychiatry and Chief Psychiatrist, Vazhikatti Mental Health Centre and Research Institute says that he has seen a 20% increase in the number of calls that they have been receiving in the past two weeks. "Since the lockdown, we have started on-call counselling. Many callers complain about being not able to sleep, waking up tired, or experiencing palpitation, dry mouth, churning of stomach, etc. These are all signs of anxiety. This could be due to the worries about their jobs, safety or income," he says.
- He suggests that people who experience any such concerns should consult a psychiatrist. "Also talk about your anxiety to your family members. The emotional and mental support that they can provide is tremendous. Try to involve yourself in physical activities. It helps you calm down and sleep better. It is also best to avoid screen time at least an hour before sleep," he recommends.
- This is not a free service. Call 9842253053 from 9:30 am to 1:30 am to book an appointment.
Tamilselvan gets at least four calls every day and most of them are to address anxiety. "The number is gradually increasing each day. Majority of them have no history of mental illness. I listen to them and suggest ways to modify their negative thoughts," he says. The service will be provided until the pandemic settles down.
Call 9842006144, 9865585987, 9003378216, 9994279271, 890345668 between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm.
NG Chandran Charities of Nitya Gurukula
The organisation started free counselling from April 2. "With the entire family being together all the time, there is bound to be pressure and interpersonal conflicts," says Sudha Sundaram, COO of Nitya Gurukula. Nitya Gurukula has a team of 15 qualified counsellors who provide on-call, WhatsApp and video sessions. "It depends on the person calling. Some people are more comfortable seeing their counsellors' face while others prefer text messages. We provide them with practical tips to relax," she says. The free sessions will be available till April 14.
Call 9489382307, 9500912307,1800121203040 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm or write to [email protected] to book an appointment.
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