Two in every three persons calling BMCs mental health helpline are men,according to data collected by the civic body over the last two months since it was launched.
In a bid to address the increasing stress levels amongst citizens,BMC started the 24-hour helpline on May 15 to counsel callers. Three counsellors man three telephone lines. They patiently hear out people battling a variety of issues and attempt to provide simple solutions.
Of the 2,000 calls received over the last two months,maximum were from people in the age brackets of 21-40 and 41-60,each accounting for 30 per cent of the calls. Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said,We realised we need to take steps for resolving stress-related problems. This helpline has received calls not only from Mumbai,but other cities as well.
According to the data,50 per cent calls originated from Mumbai and 30 per cent from Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) excluding Mumbai. Another 5 per cent were from other cities in the state and 1 per cent from cities outside Maharashtra. The rest did not reveal details,Mhaiskar said.
The helpline provides callers the liberty to stay anonymous. Some callers do not provide their details and just discuss their problems, she added.
Dr Shubhangi Parkar from KEM hospital said the counsellors were qualified psychiatrists who received rigorous training for two months before joining. They were trained to provide supportive therapy,give simple solutions and specific advice, she said.
Though a few calls turned out to be hoax,many were genuine and some were in dire need of counselling,she said. We also get follow-up calls from people who are depressed. Ten to 14 per cent calls are follow-ups and operators have started remembering the callers history, she added.
Currently,BMC also provides the option of fixing a personal appointment if the caller needs special attention. Psychiatry outpatient departments have been provided in KEM,Sion and Nair hospitals for the purpose.
Neha,a counsellor,attends around 40 calls a day. She said her callers complain of stress,sleep deprivation,study-related problems,and depression. If the problems intensify,I recommend the callers to psychiatric OPD, she said.
According to Parkar,the response has been overwhelming and patients,in their feedback,have said they feel better after calling the helpline.
Helpline number: 022-24131212.