Mental health helpline comes to your rescue amid lockdown
City psychiatrists emphasise on need to be sensitive about psychological struggles, to extend service to those dealing with alcohol, substance abuse
With the intention to provide mental health support to citizens amid the nationwide lockdown, city psychiatrists have come up with a free helpline. The assistance is also available to those dealing with alcohol or substance abuse, acute withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and other psychological issues.
Senior psychiatrist, Dr Sanjay Kumavat, the former deputy director mental health, Government of Maharashtra said, "We have to be sensitive about different people's reaction to the lockdown, where they are forced to stay within the four walls of their homes — a senior citizen, a child, a single parent, the employed having no facility to work from home, not being able to visit doctors for routine check-up or dialysis, a jobless person or someone going through troubled a relationship or an addict (alcohol/substance), etc. Each and every one of them must be going through different stages of phycological stress and timely help can change the situation." Dr Kuamavat added, "Through the helpline, we have given mobile numbers of psychiatrists practising across the state. It is our way of reaching out to those in distress by saying, 'we care' and help is a mere phone call away."
Dr Niraj Ravani, a psychiatrist from Vashi, said, "We wanted to render our services to those in need amid a global crisis. We found this could be a better way of serving those who need our help."
"We are already getting cases of those showing signs of alcohol/substance abuse. A sudden break in their regular dosage leads to withdrawal symptoms, which is evident psychologically and physically — emotional disturbances, lack of tolerance, irritability, tremors in body, lack of sleep, anxiety and other psychological changes, which need timely professional support," explained Dr Kumavat.
Doctors also have a word of caution for pranksters. Dr Anjali Deshpande, a psychiatrist from Thane said, "We are here to provide free services and if anyone calls us to play pranks, we have clearly told all our colleagues to take appropriate legal measures, including registering a police complaint, if the need arises."
Dr Kumavat too echoed similar concerns, stating, "The earlier mental health helplines were receiving many unsolicited calls. It was one of the reasons why such a service on phone got derailed."
Addicts ask to open wine shops at night
Kunal Mohite, 47, a resident of Andheri East lost his job last month. This pushed him to drink further and his consumption of liquor doubled. However, since the lockdown, he has not been able to procure liquor, which has caused distress and mood swings. "I am not able to eat anything. I get tremors." "A liquor bottle that usually costs R160 is being sold for R800 in the black market. I can't afford that as I am jobless. If the government were to open the wine shop for just a few minutes or an hour later at night, people like me would be grateful," said Mohite.
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