Ever since Covid19 invaded this globe, people across the world are in fear. This global health pandemic has touched every human person’s life in some way or the other, forcing isolation, uncertainty, anger, and hopelessness and this coupled with the economic meltdown is causing huge psychological distress. The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to human Society, both for risking human life ensuing economic distress, and for its invisible emotional strain.
United Nations (UN) warned saying Coronavirus pandemic “has the seeds of a major mental health crisis,” and called for substantial investment in support services. According to United Nations Depression affects 264 million people around the world. (UN report 14.05.2020)
Co-incidentally, Caritas India as a leading organisation in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Risk Reduction, having responded to the Covid 19 Pandemic could feel the pulse of people in terms of fear, anxiety and tension and the problem it has created to human society particularly the marginalised community. Therefore, Caritas India’s Management reflected and initiated this helpline number for Covid 19 (844 844 1082) in the beginning of April 2020 and a team was constituted on the 3rd of April 2020. The purpose of this helpline is to intervene and reduce human emotional and Psychological suffering by providing Psycho-social counselling to those who reach out to us through the helpline.
In the last one month, Caritas India has received about 55 distress calls from women, men, children. aged persons and people living with disabilities. These calls have come from various parts of the country like Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, etc. The age group of the caller ranges from 7 years to 87 years, the youngest being a girl and the oldest being a man. The maximum calls were received between the age group 36-60 years. The ratio of men and women calling is 46M:9F. Two Callers were Children.
The maximum calls were received for Psychosocial counselling coupled with requests for basic essentials like ration, medicine, transportation facilities, and seeking information on COVID 19, etc.
Though we have received only 55 calls in the last one and a half months, it was interesting to know that many people including migrant workers and daily wagers got connected and on behalf of the group (50 + families) only one person calls particularly for requesting for basic essentials. Such calls have been received from Assam, Bihar, and Karnataka. Most of members in the group are widows, single women, aged people, Poor families, people living with disabilities, etc. Currently, we have supported 120+ families through the Helpline Number.
For the service of Counselling, Caritas’ Psycho-social counselling Team members comprising of seven Caritas members are managing so far. Besides the Caritas India Counselling team, we have mobilised local Volunteer counsellors from across India (our partners) who will also contribute in providing the needed services to those who reached out to us through the helpline. The benefit of engaging local counsellors is that they can counsel the caller in their local vernaculars.
For the basic essential Caritas India in collaboration with local partners provides them or we linked them up with other organisations or networks who can provide such services.