India has just completed the first week of its lockdown and as WHO warned, it is already taking a toll on people’s mental health. Amidst speculations of an extension, reports about workers walking home have made us aware of our privileges– quarantine is a privilege, isolation is a privilege, having soaps and sanitizers available is a privilege compared to the plight of the people who have been walking for days, with new-born children and ailing family members, to reach home. This article also brings me to talk about a possibility that Sara Dorn deals with in her article for The New York Post: of women and children being locked up with their abusers and not being able to leave home. Although I do not have the statistical data for this on India, I do have testimonies to fall back on, from people who have confided in me about the same.
In times like these, the deterioration of the average mental health of India could be anticipated. The government has launched a toll-free helpline number for the ones seeking aid related to mental health. It is — 08046110007.
The Indian Psychoanalytical Society has also extended support in the form of a WhatsApp number (9874124224) and an email id ( email@example.com ). They need the person contacting them to mention their name, age, city, contact number and preferred time to be contacted in the WhatsApp message or email, with the assurance that trained counsellors will get in touch with the sender.
Indian Psychiatric Society, West Bengal State Branch, has offered help with a list of Doctors and their availability.
I didn’t get in touch with any particular support group, but I did find a few on Facebook and Instagram. Herein, I would like to mention a friend who came up with the idea of creating a community where the members know each other and each of them have been sharing one fond memory of each other every day, to remind each other that it was not always the way it is and it will not forever be this bad, hopefully.
I could not mention a few initiatives for lack of consent on the part of the counsellors. Nor can I recommend apps like Wysa which are not yet available to anyone except the iPhone and iPad users. The services mentioned in the article are free and, I believe, are worth a shot in case you are spiralling really badly. The lockdown is a pit alright. But it’s not bottomless. Not yet anyway.
Sritama is a High School teacher and a Research Scholar.