June 2, 2021 10:16:45 pm
Vadodara city police Wednesday launched the city’s first toll-free helpline number to deal with cases of people in mental distress as well as prevention of suicides. Called the Zindagi Helpline, the Vadodara police has set up the first response team to distress calls that will then refer the callers to counsellors, as needed.
Vadodara Commissioner of Police Dr Shamsher Singh launched the helpline numbers 1096 and 7069944100, in association with the Vandrevala Foundation and the Psychology department of MS University of Vadodara. The counsellors of the Foundation also held a few days of training sessions with the Vadodara police personnel, who will attend to the calls on the toll-free numbers.
Singh said, “At the moment, the calls will first be attended by the She Team of Vadodara city. They underwent a couple of days of virtual training with the Vandrewala Foundation, understanding the skills of empathy and first response to distress callers. We will have two operators, to begin with, and add more manpower if needed.”
“The officers attending the calls will first gauge if the person is in need of counselling. If the person is willing and in need, they will then be put through virtual counselling from the experts of the Foundation, which will handhold the project for about a week. After that, we will have the Psychology department of MS University joining in counselling. The police officers will not directly counsel the person, but try to prevent any dire action at that moment,” Singh added.
He further said that the helpline, which was long overdue in Vadodara, will be funded from the Suraksha Setu project of the Gujarat government. This is the first official suicide and mental distress helpline number in Vadodara, which has seen a rise in suicide cases since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020.
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