For most, across the country, the second wave of the pandemic has brought with it a fresh set of anxieties and stress . One constantly worries about the wellbeing of loved ones, while also being impacted by the news of loss and grief all around. Added to that is a feeling of burnout at work. A lot of us are giving in to doom scrolling, taking in a barrage of images and information related to the pandemic through the day. All this is taking a toll on people's mental health, with most not having an outlet for their anxieties. While it's important to take care of one's physical wellbeing at this time, it is equally significant to tend to one's mental health to be able to cope with the pandemic. Here is a verified list of therapists, counselors, psychologists and even physicians, who are conducting sessions and listening circles in these difficult times. Most of these are pan-India services, and you can book a video or audio session from anywhere in the country.
Therapize: With its network of 80-plus therapists and counselors, Therapize is trying to make mental healthcare accessible to all. You can book a one-on-one session or be part of the 'covid support circle'. The third-party aggregator was launched in August, last year, when the country was in the grip of the first wave of the pandemic. "We have covid support circles related to anxiety, burnout and grief, and have seen traction across the three categories and across all age groups," state Aviva Bhansali and Anushka Kelkar, co-founders, Therapize. They follow a robust diligence process while adding mental health professionals to the network, going through details such as educational qualifications, work experiences, kind of organisations they have been affiliated with, and more.
"Also, all clinical psychologists need to have a license with The Rehabilitation Council of India. So, that's on our checklist as well. Moreover, our network has consulting psychologists, those who specialise in dance movement therapy, queer affirmative therapy, and more," they add. The website features information and videos on the various therapists to help you get to know them better. Today, Therapize isn't just getting calls from across south Asia but also from the US, Europe, Canada and Australia as well. Visit: https://www.therapizeindia.com/
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Shruti Goutham: For some days now, she has been blocking time to offer free psychotherapy sessions to anyone, who would like a layer of support during this distressing time. "When you watch what is happening all around you, that itself has an impact on your mental wellbeing. And if something is happening within the family or friend circle, that tends to be terrifying," says Goutham, who is based out of Mumbai. "None of us has been taught how to cope with grief and anxiety." So, she is offering a safe listening space to people via Zoom or Google Meet, while also sharing tools and coping strategies if they are open to it. In the past few days, so many people have reached out to her that there is now a waiting period for the sessions. Mail at email@example.com
Blooming Health: This health and wellness page has been started on Instagram by a group of physicians to address misinformation around covid-19. "This is a page where people can simply come and talk," says Dr Priyal, who is based out of Ahmedabad. "Due to the isolation, a lot people feel the need to be heard. They are also looking for advice on how to cope with the anxieties and doubts." The page was started three months ago to help combat anxiety in general, but these days, it is flooded with messages from all over the country about ways to cope with the pandemic.
A lot of queries are from the youth, who worry about their parents contracting the infection. Then there are those who have lost their relatives and friends. As they continue to be in isolation, they are wrought with feelings of helplessness. "Most people don't need extensive therapy sessions. They just need someone to hear them out for the time being. We provide such counseling sessions," adds Dr Priyal. Contact: @blooming_health_ on Instagram
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MPower: This centre and foundation for holistic mental health services has started MPower 1 on 1 to connect people with mental health professionals to get help to cope with the pandemic. The foundation has also been conducting webinars for employees of different companies about the same. "The second wave has left people feeling worse on multiple levels. For one, the pandemic has come closer home," says Zirak Marker, psychiatrist and adviser, Mpower. A helpline was started last year to address distress and anxiety due to the pandemic. Today this 24-hour helpline has options in different Indian languages.
"One needs to understand if the anxiety is due to covid-19 or is the person showing symptoms that need a more thorough intervention. When is it clinical? How do you address it? What are the kind of interventions you need? These are the questions we are trying to answer," adds Marker. Besides this, the foundation is also trying to empower clinicians to support their colleagues through this trying time. Contact the helpline at 1800-120-820050
Room: The Mindcare Space: This service was set up to offer affordable and accessible mental healthcare. In these times, the team is offering support spaces, be it through group chats or video calls. These groups, comprising eight to ten people, go on for a duration of at least two to three weeks. "An overwhelming number of people require support at this time. We are just helping them navigate through this situation," says Rajul Jagdish, founder and psychotherapist at Room: The Mindcare Space. Contact: 8431455791
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Pooja Priyamvada: This Delhi-based mental health expert and columnist offers psychological first-aid. She has been taking part in listening circles for healthcare professionals and offering personal active listening support. These sessions are supported by the Bhor Foundation, a Delhi-based trust. She also conducts individual sessions pro bono in her personal capacity. "A lot of people have expressed that it feels as if they are in a tunnel with no end, and have started exhibiting post trauma-like symptoms," she says. Priyamvada conducts her sessions across myriad mediums, as she has found that some people are more comfortable expressing themselves through the written word, others prefer audio or video chats.
"Last year, the focus was on active listening. This year it is more about reflective listening, which is imbued with empathy," she adds. Priyamvada also regularly shares resources on her social media. Just yesterday, she posted about the Human Solidarity Foundation Mental Health Support helpline for those affected by covid (9818540802). Priyamvada can be reached via direct messages on Twitter (@SoulVersified)
Radhika Bapat: Therapists too have been under a lot of strain during covid-19. They are managing their own feelings while helping others cope with stress, anxiety and grief. Radhika Bapat, a Pune-based clinical psychologist, has been receiving a number of messages and emails from therapists in distress. To help them through this time, she is offering listening spaces and free consultations to mental health professionals. Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org