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In 153 conversations with Telangana helpline: Anxiety about doctor daughter to changes in spouse behaviour

Among the calls, 42 were about stress about fear of Covid infections, 15 were related to depression over lockdown, 11 callers had several psychological problems, six had suicidal tendencies, six pertained to marital issues while working from home while 30 were Covid-related issues.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: May 21, 2021 4:33:38 am
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao interacts with Covid-19 patients at Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad on Wednesday. (PTI)

* A 60-year-old woman from Secunderabad had Covid-19 symptoms but was afraid to take the test fearing that it would be positive.

* A 70-year-old Covid patient in home quarantine from Secunderabad was doing well but was anxious because he had no one to talk to. His sons called to enquire about his health but never had a proper conversation.

* A 52-year-old woman from Turkayamjal was too afraid to sleep or be alone at home due to fear of Covid-19.

* A 24-year-old man was stressed as the Covid-19 restrictions disrupted his preparations for civil services exams.

* A 28-year-old who lost both his parents to the virus was depressed and hopeless about his future.

These were among 153 calls received by the ‘Psycho Social Counselling Service’ launched by the Rachakonda Police on May 10 to provide counselling to people facing mental health issues due to the pandemic. The conversations point to mental issues triggered by the pandemic and restrictions imposed in the wake of it, with the data revealing how vulnerable the elderly and those living alone are.

Among the 153 calls received in a week since the helpline was launched, 42 were about stress about fear of a Covid infections, 15 were related to depression over lockdown, 11 callers had several psychological problems, six had suicidal tendencies, six pertained to marital issues while working from home while 30 were Covid-related issues.

Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat had launched the service with a team of 14 counsellors and clinical psychologists who volunteered for the helpline (040-48214800). “In all the cases, the counsellors guided the callers, assuaged their fears, gave pep talks, and gave them hope,” Bhagwat said.

A 60-year-old woman from Secunderabad expressed fear about a Covid test. “The person was advised that the first medicine is ‘I can handle the situation with courage and my body has immense capacity to fight. A few instances of Covid affected persons who successfully recovered were narrated to her which boosted her confidence, and she agreed to take the Covid-19 test,” an official said.

In another call, a relative of a 52-year-old woman from Turkayamjal in Rangareddy district said she was not sleeping properly, was afraid of being alone at home and had stopped going out for farm work with her husband. “She was encouraged to talk about how she has supported her family till now, and suggested she move forward with the same spirit. Her relative who connected the call was impressed to see the change in her and requested face-to-face counselling too,” said Rachakonda DCP K Shilpavalli.

A 24-year-old civil services aspirant, who lost both his parents, was encouraged to learn new skills, prepare a daily schedule and make the most of the extra time due to Covid-related curbs. He was also given “tips to improve altruism so that he can feel his parents in the people whom he is helping”. “He calmed down and was very happy that he spoke with us,” a counsellor said.

Several callers spoke about changes in the behaviour of their spouses since the pandemic started. Clinical psychologists identified a few cases of mental illness and suggested they seek professional help.

Another call was from a 51-year-old man, whose daughter works as a doctor in a Covid ward and who was anxious about deaths and lack of medical resources despite taking anti-anxiety medicines. “The problem was that when he tried to discuss this with his family members they dismissed his concerns… On the day he called, he had read about a Telugu journalist who succumbed to Covid-19 and he was the same age as his daughter,” an official said.

The man was advised to involve himself in reading, listening to music, walking inside his home, and to do breathing exercises and avoid repeatedly watching negative news. “We congratulated him for being blessed with a daughter who is a frontline worker,” the official said, adding that he called again four days later with anxiety about his daughter but the counsellor listened to his concerns.

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