Helpline Diaries 4

‘Giving it back to society in a professional manner’, was the first thought that came in our minds when our entire team started thinking about starting a ‘Mental Health Support Helpline’. Having a clear intention of starting a sustainable project, the task wasn’t easy but yes, the efforts were genuine.

3rd August 2020, on the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan, Sakal Sobat Boluya, the 24×7: 365 days helpline has been started by Sakal Social Foundation and Centre for Mental Health & Disabilities, Karve Institute of Social Service Pune, supported by the Punit Balan Group. The reason for mentioning Raksha Bandhan is, one of the early morning callers on the same day mentioned during our conversation, ‘I am feeling so relaxed talking to a person who is listening to me, guiding me like an elder sister today’. 

It indeed is a fulfilling feeling when one more caller, from a village near Sangli, in distress for years together called me up saying she is feeling much better since we last talked. A lady in her 40’s has two children but hardly remembers their childhood, feels low, gets very restless, and spends sleepless nights wondering about her kids who are currently at the age of 15 & 12 today, and how fast they have grown up. 

After hearing her worries, I suggested that she needed to opt for professional help once the lockdown releases, however, till then she can continue talking to her family, friends, and me. I would be happy to help her with the therapeutic approach as much I can over the phone. The lady would cry non-stop over the phone and could not even utter any words. I then spoke to her husband, asked him to pay a little more attention to her and her needs, and to continue talking to her, and help her remember the incidents that would make her laugh when the kids were younger. Every person I feel needs that someone who he/she can speak their heart out to. Everyone needs a person who will be there for you and hears your worries/troubles. Managing your problems all by yourself can really take a toll on mental health. We must always reach out to people who are going through a tough time/situation. 

The most satisfying moment for me was when her husband called after 4-5 days! He was surprised and wondered how one phone call from my end could make such a big impact, as she was feeling much better. Her husband says, ‘I can see at least a 50% improvement! How is this possible in just one phonecall ma’am?’ I explained to him, ‘This is not just the effect of one call, she may need professional help, but you taking care of her, talking to her is also making a lot of difference.’ 

Most women in our society, especially during their 40’s/50’s may start feeling that they have been taken for granted by their families, even though it may seem unintentional at times. Like every other member of the family, she also does need a little attention, care, and someone to talk to. That feeling of ‘importance’, gives one immense energy to move on. I hope I can help many out there through a phonecall.  


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Shilpa Tambe

Counselor, Pune

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