Heartfulness launches ‘Voice that Cares’ – A Psychosocial First Aid (PSFA) to encourage mental well-being

Hyderabad, 24th June 2021:  Heartfulness group of organizations and Ripples of Change Foundation (ROCF) have launched “Voice that Cares- Psycho-social First Aid (PSFA)” helpline to provide counselling to people suffering from mental health issues. The helpline number is 8448-8448-45 and will be open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 7 days a week and is offered in Hindi and English languages.  This public helpline will provide psychosocial counselling support on a wide range of mental health matters which include anxiety, fear, panic attacks, phobias, guilt, grief, loneliness, anger, exam stress, pandemic induced psychological issues, stigma, etc, and first aid support for suicidal tendencies, depressive disorders, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental health concerns. In the first year of operations, the helpline is estimated to support approximately 48,400 PSFA calls, likely touching the lives of more than 24,000 beneficiaries. The initiative was launched by experts in the area, Dr. Thiruppugazh, Additional Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India, Dr. Sekar Kasi, Professor & Head, Registrar, Center for Psychosocial Support in Disaster Management, NIMHANS; along with Global Guide of Heartfulness, Kamlesh D Patel (Daaji).

Over the past few months, experts have pointed out the critical need to address the silent epidemic of mental health looming on the side-lines of the Covid-19 pandemic. The immense stress and trauma caused by the pandemic has led to increased cases of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. The Voice that Cares PSFA helpline provides an avenue to address the mental as well as psycho-social needs of those severely affected by the pandemic. The helpline has been launched with guidance of NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) and NIMHANS (Centre for Psychosocial Support in Disaster Management) and supported by Manasa Educational Foundation for Mental Health (MEFFMH) and other organizations. The initiative is backed by experienced counsellors, 50 master trainers who have been trained by experts from NIMHANS, and 160 volunteers who have been trained to provide PSFA counselling. The initiative is also supported by an advisory panel consisting of senior psychologists / psychiatrists who will monitor the operations and guide the team.

Dr. Thiruppugazh, Additional Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India, said, “Covid 19 is the biggest disaster, we have faced in independent India, not only in terms of loss of lives, but also in terms of economic loss. It also one of the largest disasters in terms of mental trauma. Most of the damage in cases of Covid 19 is invisible unlike other disasters. Loved ones, care givers of people who are in covid isolation are the most stressed as they are not able to help their loved ones. Those who have recovered also continue to suffer from psychological trauma. The need for mental healing is as much important as physical healing. Helping humanity during a crisis is true spirituality. I am happy to extend my support and knowledge for this initiative and wish great success for Voice that Cares.”

Dr. Sekar Kasi, Professor & Head, Registrar, Center for Psychosocial Support in Disaster Management, NIMHANS, said, “NDMA has recognized that psychosocial support and mental health services as one of the major focus areas for the coming years. The pandemic has triggered significant emotional, physical, as well as economic problems, not only in India but around the world. Psycho-social plays a vital role in mitigating the emotional and mental challenges caused by this pandemic. In the mental health field, today we are looking at new diagnostic criteria in terms of Covid depression, Covid anxiety, Covid PTSD and others. Adding to the crisis, we have very few mental health professionals in India. We have 1 psychiatrist for every 2,00,000 population. In this regard, Voice that Cares is a great initiative, and I commend the efforts of Heartfulness Institute and ROCF Foundation in bringing forth a much-needed service to humanity.”

Speaking about the initiative, Kamlesh D Patel also known as Daaji, Global Guide of Heartfulness, said, “Socio-psychology is more relevant and valuable today than in any other period in the last decades. It does not matter which strata of the society one belongs to. Mental health is an area of concern in all classes of the society. The role of our services is to create a friendlier association between mental health concerns and those who need support the most. Voice that Cares initiative was born out of this crucial need to move away from the stigma associated with it, educate the masses, and enhance the collective well-being of our society.”

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