The World Health Organisation (WHO) found in 2015 that one in five Indian may suffer from depression in their lifetime; but social stigma around mental illnesses restricts a majority from seeking help.
With the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown enforced all around the world, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts have risen exponentially, thus calling for the urgent need to ramp up the conversation and help around the stigma of it all.
In India alone, the stigma of having mental health issues prevents many to accept they have a problem, much less visit a therapist or a psychologist/psychiatrist.
But there is help.
If you feel the need to avail help but would rather avoid going to a therapist, here are few places you can turn to.
Renowned public university Tata Institue of Social Science (TISS) has introduced MA Social Work in Mental Health, in further development towards mental health.
In October 2017, the institute developed a chat service, iCall, which is available from Monday to Saturday and from 8 am till 10 pm. Taken up as a field project by School of Human Ecology, the service guarantees anonymity, allowing people to open up about their problems.
Actor Deepika Padukone opened up about her own experience of dealing with depression in 2014, when her career was at its peak. On October 15, World Mental Health Day, in 2015, she launched The Live Love Laugh Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to reduce stigma attached to mental health and change the perception around it.
Recently, the TLLLF launched a lecture series featuring Pulitzer prize winning author and Columbia University professor, Padma Shri awardee Siddhartha Mukherjee – famous for his 2010 book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.
The foundation has also initiated a school programme to educate teachers and students on anxiety, stress, and depression. While teachers are guided on identifying symptoms and extending help, students get to learn about self-help and how to be sensitive towards their peers. Among other programmes, it also provides an e-booklet to educate parents regarding adolescent mental health.
Founded by KK Rajagopal in 2002, Sahai is a platform that counsels those who are emotionally stressed and dealing with mental disorders.
It is backed by the National Institute of Medical Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), the Rotary club, and Medico-Pastoral Association (MPA). Rajagopal was himself treated with depression following his daughter death in an accident.
Currently operated by provided by Medico Pastoral Association (MPA), it has 20 volunteers trained by faculty from NIMHANS and other psychiatrists. Their service is free of cost and those willing to have a face to face session are referred to fully-trained MPA counsellors.
Helpline: 080-25497777, 9886444075
Founded by investor-couple Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala and Cyrus Vandrevala in 2008, this non-profit organisation runs a nationwide initiative to relieve mental health disorders of social stigma and false information.
They also tend to those who are looking for help through helplines, with
assistance available in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and English. The Foundation also has a 24-7 counselling centre in Mumbai for those suffering with mental health problems and illnesses.
Domestic and International helpline: 91-7304599836 and 91-7304599837
Domestic BSNL helpline: 02612667600 and 18002333330
This non-profit organisation offers knowledge service regarding mental health and disorders. This includes visual and digital content for help seekers to understand mental health and psychiatric disorders, rights and responsibilities, and relevant laws. The platform aims to create awareness amongst not just those suffering from mental illnesses, but for a larger audience so people can help those who are struggling.
The platform aims to reach youngsters in ten major cities of India with a 500-experts strong network, communicating in three languages. It also hopes to work in the rural communities.
The platform also features several helplines connecting to other organisations. They are:
Parivarthan: 7676602602 This is available from Monday to Friday, from 4 pm - 10 pm.
Sneha India: 044-24640050 This is available 24/7 in India.
Mental health-focused startup YOURDost, founded by Richa Singh in 2014, connects individuals who are looking to cure depression, anxiety and other mental disorders with psychologists and psychiatrists.
It also provides short duration workshops on a topics including pre-wedding jitters, beating loneliness, boosting confidence, and strengthening marital status, among many others.
Those seeking help can connect with psychiatrists to talk about problems concerning relationships, career and academics, sexual health and self-improvement, all of which can affect mental well-being of a person. The platform also features discussions on minor problems which resurface every day. One can also carry out a self-test regarding emotional intelligence and our habits on the internet, among other things.