In just four months more than 5,000 people contacted the helpline. On August 3, 2020, courtesy of ‘Puneet Balan Group’, ‘Sakal Sobat Boluya’, a 24-hour helpline for ‘Stress Management’, was launched in collaboration with Sakal Social Foundation and Karve Social Services.
The response to this helpline has been very good from day one. Some began to feel better because of this dialogue, expressed freely. Their recurring follow-up calls are a kind of acknowledgment for all counselors. For the past four months, a team of fifteen counselors have been working around the clock to provide mental support to our callers and to ensure they go back feeling better and positive. November was a festive month and this year’s Diwali, after 6-8 months of a conundrum, was a relief from all kinds of tensions. But, in some homes when there is tension in the family, the helpline ‘Sakal Sobat Boluya’ helped to alleviate it.
According to statistics from the launch of the helpline, the number of male calls is around 61%, the proportion of private employees is 28% and the proportion of housewives is 16%. While 66% of calls are from urban areas like Pune, Mumbai, Kolhapur, calls are from Ahmednagar-Shirur-Junnar-Chakan, Barshi-Latur-Osmanabad-Baramati as well as from the corners of Maharashtra like Urlikanchan, Shirwal, Gadhinglaj, Bhigwan, semi-urban and rural areas is also included in this statistic.
Incoming call questions will focus on future worries, anxieties, fears and especially physical, mental stress related to Covid-19 as well as financial stress, business, job anxiety and relationship related issues.
Most of the calls are in the age group of 30-69 years, which is more than the age group in charge of household responsibilities. There were also some patients who were already suffering from mental illness and those who had been serving such patients for many years. Patients’ phone calls are special because if they have a strong desire to reduce the incidence of mental illness, and if they have an insight, then in real sense counseling can be a very good option for them.
We got a call from a mother who had read in the paper that, ‘If you want to feel free about any stress, you can talk to us’. Her son Naseem (name has been changed) M.Com. who is learning, and working hard fell in love with a girl and is in a relationship since 2 years. But due to the lockdown and difficult situations, he lost his job and unfortunterly the girl who he was in love with got married to someone else. It was very frustrating for him because she had agreed to be with him. He mostly stays quiet after he went through these troubles and refuses to talk to anyone. But, that day finally he agreed to talk to me on the phone.
As he spoke, he became more relaxed! As a councsellor I tried to understand him by shedding light on all aspects of law and mental health. In the end, if that girl isn’t ready now, how can a forced relationship make sense? Before ending the conversation, in a very low vocie he said, ‘Madam, I don’t know your name but it feels good to talk to you, we have been reading the morning paper for so many years, we knew we would get some help here.’ Do you realize how important it is for someone to listen to you in today’s stressful life. We all need a shoulder to cry on or someone to hear the problems.
-Dr. Alpana Vaidya
One caller who is a grandfather lives in one of our old age homes deliberately called on the day of Diwali, not to talk about any problems but just to wish happy Diwali. On one hand, while the team is working to reduce stress, we are relieved by the idea that we also have well-meaning callers.
-Sau. Smita Londhe