With a view to provide counselling and care for those suffering mental health problems or emotional distress due to the prolonged lockdown and deepening economic hardships, the state tribal development department on Sunday launched a helpline number especially for rural and tribal regions. The helpline is being operated by non-profits Prafulta and Project Mumbai.
Already, 30 trained counsellors have been appointed and work has begun to spread awareness about the helpline. The counsellors, who are trained to speak in Marathi, Hindi and English, fielded over 100 calls on Sunday and an equal number on Monday. All 30 were continuously on the phones during their shift, with callers keeping the helpline busy throughout.
Minister for Tribal Development K C Padvi said the helpline, which has been christened Samvaad, will be a useful resource for those among the state’s one crore tribals, who may not have other avenues to seek help for stress, anxiety or depression.
Principal Secretary (Tribal Development) Manisha Verma said that concerns about mental wellness usually remain outside the ambit of discussions with health professionals in very backward regions. “As this helpline can benefit people from across Maharashtra, we have facilitated it through the state government with the support of other departments,” she added. The helpline will be accessible from any part of the state, even though it has been launched with a view to enable people in tribal and backward regions to access mental health care.
CEO of Project Mumbai, Shishir Joshi, said the organisation has until now provided counselling to urban populations, and this initiative will be a new opportunity. To provide prompt responses to calls, the department has also invited counsellors, especially those living in non-urban settings, to also volunteer through the helpline.
The toll free Samvaad helpline number is 1800 102 4040. The department has assured that callers’ confidentiality will be maintained.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines