Poddar Foundation launches India’s First FREE Helpline number for people suffering from Mental Health issues

Mumbai: All the leading economic indicators are reeling under financial stress, which is seen as implications of the pandemic covid-19. The uncertainty on recovery owing to pandemic has engulfed all citizen’s minds across the globe with fear and anxiety. People are constantly consuming news related to coronavirus through television, social media, Whatsapp, etc. This is not only affecting the mental health of the senior citizens but also millennials and youths. With an aim to improve the mental wellbeing quotient of the nation, Poddar Foundation, a 37-year-old foundation in association with Rotary Club has launched a universal helpline number 1800-121-0980Description: Description: Description: D:\User Profile\Downloads\WhatsApp Image 2020-03-31 at 8.37.28 AM.jpeg to combat mental illness during COVID-19.

In India, mental illness is often neglected the citizens are used to living a stressful life which eventually derails their productivity. Lack of understanding and the stigma attached to it is the major barrier towards seeking help related to mental health issues. More than 7.5% of Indian population suffers some form of serious mental disorder with no observable rural-urban difference as per a study reported in WHO, conducted for the NCMH (National Care Of Medical Health). WHO predicts that more than 20% of Indian population will suffer from mental illness by the end of 2020. This is largely because of the treatment gap of over 70%, the helpline is a step towards bridging the large gap.

As a foundation, the focus has always been to build awareness around mental, behavioral and emotional health issues and inform on its effects on our day to day lives. With this thought, a universal helpline number is launched. The idea is to create an ecosystem where one equips himself/herself to successfully deal with an unfriendly situation. More than 500 volunteers are available to help and address issues related to anxiety and stress for everyone in need, 200 of these is trained actively taking calls and helping people cope in these uncertain times.

In the era of social distancing, these volunteers are fully trained via zoom calls, mock-calls and video training. Since the country has diversity in languages, these volunteers are fluent in multiple languages like English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, and Punjabi to help the masses in need. The volunteers are available from 8am to 8pm. This helpline is being used by Goa Government as their official helpline number. Also, this is being used by NSDC and World Peace University.

Spearheaded by the visionary, Ms. Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee of Poddar Foundation, believes in educating and spreading awareness on the unrecognized threats of mental health imbalances. Commenting on initiative Ms. Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation said, “The idea was to introduce a helpline that can help people across states in India and abroad. We realized that mental health was not considered an important aspect for many in the country. The vision was to create a platform that can be of help to the people during this pandemic. Due to the nationwide lockdown, people are unable to do their daily activities and keep themselves busy. There is lot of insecurity related to their jobs, industry’s getting impacted, not being able to meet their friends, unable to plan their savings due to the uncertainty of their salaries, etc. With a team of volunteers, specialized experts, we aim to bridge the treatment gap that India faces today. It couldn’t be complete without the help of the Rotary Club, Hinduja Hospital, Masina Hospital, RoundGlass, and other foundations and organisations. The security of mental health and wellbeing has to be a collective endeavor much larger than a single individual’s need.”

“Together we aim to spur a mentally fit, emotionally healthy and physically productive India. “, she further added.

Shri. VK Gautam, Addl. Chief Secretary, Maharashtra State, Human Rights Commission said, “The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, understands the importance of mental health, however in times like these it is even more a concern. And usually gets left behind as we continue to combat relief on the ground through distribution of grains, medicines etc.

The Wellbeing Volunteers United, an initiative of Poddar Foundation and a collective of the Rotary district 3141, and Rotary club of Bombay, with other like-minded people powering this, has over 400 Volunteers, ready to answer calls and uplift the spirit of our citizens.