Pune-based psychologist Dr Radhika Bapat and US-based Dr Uma Chandrika Millner, in association with the Asian American Psychological Association, have launched the Indian Network of the Diaspora for Essential Aid and Relief (INDEAR) to offer free mental health support to India’s frontline healthcare workers.
In this initiative over 400 mental health practitioners, including psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, from across the globe have volunteered their time and expertise. The sessions will be available in Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Marwari, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. The pandemic is India’s greatest ever health crisis, said Dr Bapat. It has affected both physical and mental health of millions, especially that of the frontline workers. Doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, hospital staff and crematorium staff are working more than 14 hours a day, often without PPE kits. Police and army personnel are also pitching in.
“INDEAR aims to help them get through the crisis by offering support,” Dr Bapat added.
“It started with my own burn-out. Dr Milner is helping me through it. I used social media to offer my own free services and was surprised to get 70 responses within an hour. Dr Milner suggested that we put out a call for volunteers to assist in the aid. We were overwhelmed with the response that we got from mental health workers working in the US, UK and Canada. It is vital to recognise the trauma the pandemic has caused to our frontliners. It is extremely important to care for them. We aim to help as many of them as we can.”
Dr Millner, assistant professor at the Division of Psychology and Applied Therapies at Lesley University, said: “I have seen and read stories of frontliners, who have gone through so much mentally and physically…” she added.