Mumbai: Andheri youth brings colour to lives of anxious COVID-19 patients

Updated: Jun 29, 2020, 08:14 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

He distributed colouring books in coordination with the Andheri West COVID Care Centre head and help from two of his friends

Balram Vishwakarma has distributed about 150 colouring sets among the patients at Laxmi Business Park Corona Care Centre in Andheri W
Balram Vishwakarma has distributed about 150 colouring sets among the patients at Laxmi Business Park Corona Care Centre in Andheri W

Fighting anxiety and restlessness during his stay at the Laxmi Business Park Corona Care Centre in Andheri West led 26-year-old animation writer Balram Vishwakarma to come up with an idea that would help those under quarantine at the centre deal with negative thoughts. He has started distributing colouring books and colour pens among the patients in coordination with centre head Dr. Kusum Gupta, so that the activity keeps them busy.

Vishwakarma was admitted to the centre on May 6, just a day after he tested positive for COVID-19. Speaking to mid-day, he said, "I stayed at the centre till May 11 and was shifted to RN Cooper Hospital from where I was discharged three days later. During my stay I spoke to Dr. Gupta about the initiative and consulted a number of patients there as well. After completing my quarantine period I started visiting the centre every week to counsel the patients." He further said that he used to have severe headache during his stay at the hospital and his mind would be filled with negative thoughts.

Balram Vishwakarma
Balram Vishwakarma

"While counselling the patients I realised there's nothing much they can do at these centres and hence they become anxious and restless. Therefore, I consulted a few doctors and therapists regarding solo activities that would keep them engaged and help maintain social distance at the same time," he added.

"I decided to distribute colouring books and colour pencils. When I told my friends about the idea, one of them, Arzoo Naqvi — an illustrator, volunteered to design the books and another friend, Hitesh Pardeshi agreed to finance their printing. When I asked Artlounge for a quotation of the colour pencils, they said they would send it for free," he said.

Vishwakarma further said, "Last Friday I wore a PPE suit and distributed 150 colouring sets among the patients. By evening I even started getting pictures of the designs coloured by them." He added that he got a positive response from the patients, especially those from the age group of 18-25.

Dr. Gupta, in-charge of Laxmi Business Park, which is equipped with 320 beds including 50 oxygen beds to treat asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patients, said, "The patients are enjoying the colouring sessions and I can see the happiness on their faces. Earlier, they would remain glued to mobile phones, which is quite exhausting for the mind."

When contacted, Aniket Kulkarni, Clinical Mental Health Counsellor, Edgewater Behavioural Services, USA, said, "Art is an incredibly powerful stress reliever and not only does it help in reducing anxiety and negative thoughts but also to kill boredom without resorting to social media. Social media and the constant barrage of news can increase stress levels and anxiety in people. And to counter this, art books are extremely helpful, especially ones with mandala designs as they help to increase mindfulness, which reduces anxiety to a great deal."

Total no. of beds at the centre

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