Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the country, the Assam government has begun a mental health support programme called 'Monon' for coronavirus patients and those quarantined in the state to provide emotional support, counselling and treatment.
Started on June 17, the programme constitutes a team of 220 psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and trained voluntary counsellors and is led by Dr Mythili Hazarika, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.
"This is a unique kind of a programme, where the mental health professionals are calling those who might need help rather than just waiting for them to call us," Hazarika told The Indian Express.
The team made a total of 2,543 calls to COVID-19 patients under treatment or those who have recovered, in the first six days since the launch of 'Monon'. Of the, 1,212 persons who needed counselling 95 of them were found to be depressed, while 139 had symptoms of clinical anxiety and at least nine people suffered suicidal tendencies.
Based on the assessments by the team, further treatment and rehabilitation programmes will be developed, the health officials said.
Hazarika said that the major reasons for mental health issues are "stress over job prospects and financial issues of the family; anxiety caused by a sense of uncertainty about the near future due to COVID; and for migrant workers, whether they can go back to where they have come back from."
"These are critical times. A large number of people, from different walks of life, are seeking emotional support and counselling. This programme is our endeavour towards providing people that," Samir Sinha, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, told the media.
He added that from when the programme was conceptualised, importance was given to the team reaching out to the people.
"Unless we reach out, we will never be able to provide the necessary mental health support to a vast majority, which will otherwise remain silent about their suffering," he said.
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