Mental breakdown in lockdown: BMC has received over 16,000 calls till September 30

Covid-19 has been overwhelming for the entire world. People have not only lost their loved ones but have also been fighting mental health issues.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with the Aditya Birla Education Trust have received 16,700 calls until September on a mental helpline number which was set up in the month of April. The highest number of calls were about anxiety in relation to the social-economic issues related to the pandemic.

Amidst nationwide lockdown, thousands of office goers have lost their jobs, women or teenagers are being forced to get married, companies are providing additional work pressure, and students are concerned about their future. This list of concerns is growing with every passing day.

The toll-free helpline number—1800-120-820050 was launched in April has received an average of 100 calls per day, while most of these calls are regarding anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, adjustment issues, relationship issues among others.

Dilshad Khurana, head counsellor, of the helpline said, “Most of the calls which they received are from youths aging between 26 and 40 years. Their main concern is job loss and adjustment issues with families and spouses in the lockdown.” Almost 70 per cent of the callers comprise of male and 30 per cent female. The helpline gets the highest number of calls between 3-8 pm.

In April, the helpline received 11,932 which gradually started declining. In May, they recorded 1,879 calls which plunged further to 971 next month. In July, 671 calls were registered which decreased to 600 in August. In September, the number rose a little to 650.

Khurana said earlier they used to get calls related to Covid-19 but now the fear of the infections has reduced due to the correct information being given to the people. “Until May most of the calls were related to Covid-19 as people were very scared of they learned that their neighbourhood are testing Covid positive. People used to believe false forwards on social media. Now, as the public is more informed, we have stopped getting such callers,” she said.

Psychiatrist Dr. Sagar Mundada said it was high time people spoke of mental illness and shared their feelings with doctors or close ones if they were feeling depressed or anxious. “Majority of the people in the entertainment industry are going through mental health issues and generally, they have a greater tendency to hide it. Many of my patients from the industry have come only when they are severely depressed, so anxious that professional work is becoming impossible or that they have made substance abuse their primary coping mechanism to handle any stress,” he said.

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