India: Covid taking a toll on people’s mental health
Experts have been handling about 40 calls a day over the past year
These are indeed the worst of times, with the Covid pandemic sweeping across, hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, experiencing personal tragedies with the death of near ones, and at the same time, being restricted to their homes because of the lockouts. Not surprisingly, these are having a huge impact on people’s mental health.
“There has been a rise in people inflicted with helplessness, acute anxiety, panic, grief and guilt, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) as they struggle to come to terms with the disaster,” Abdul Mabood, founder of the Delhi-based SNEHI foundation, which launched a Covid specific mental health helpline last April, told a newspaper.
Seven trained professionals at the centre handle about 40 calls a day and over the past year have counselled over 7,000 people. “After analysing the data since November, calls for help from those with suicidal tendencies have risen to 7% of the total, from a norm of 1%,” revealed Mabood.
“Mostly, it is those who are suffering an economic crisis and hopelessness — either the financial burdens have increased, or their ventures have been hit badly.”
There are also many young callers, who had gone out and when they returned home and infected senior family members. They were guilty and remorseful and had called for help.
Those handing the calls have to be sensitive to the feelings of those seeking help. Mabood says that just continuing with the talk for long helps them emerge from their depressing state of mind.
Increasingly, there are many callers who have lost their dear ones because of Covid-19. There are callers who were traumatised and scarred by their experiences at hospitals, where it was difficult to get their relatives admitted, or to access oxygen. Increasingly, many of the caller are from rural parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, adds Mabood.
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