Stress buster and multilingual dedicated helpline SWAASTHI for healthcare system of India

Mumbai: As people are being asked to stay safe at home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the frontline warriors are continuously fighting against the virus. When the situation in the country is grim and economy is in a fee fall even then the healthcare system is working 24×7 curing COVID-19 patients.

The constant contact with patients creates the fear of transmission of the deadly virus to the healthcare providers. The fear is not limited to only those who are frontline warriors but they are also having fear of spreading the infection to their families. 

Along with treating COVID-19 patients the doctors, nurses, hospital administration staff are also dealing with the relatives of the patients.  The psychiatrists and counselors are needed for giving mental support to the frontline warriors when the fight is with deadly virus killing millions worldwide. 

Despite the vulnerability of infection to the families of doctors, nurses, technical staff of hospitals, support staff, hospital administration staff, ambulance staff, ANMs, ASHA workers, they are deputed in care and treatment for COVID-19. They may also face psychological distress owing to their professional responsibilities. 

Keeping in mind all the psychological stress and physical illnesses faced by the health care provider’s iCALL, TISS with the support of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has launched a multilingual dedicated national-level counseling helpline “SWAASTHI”. It is launched to provide emotional support and referral linkages to aid the psychosocial wellbeing of healthcare providers and counselors and build resilience in them.

Argentina Matavel Piccin, UNFPA Country Representative in India said; “In responding to the COVID crisis, our real heroes – our health professionals, have been physically overworked. They live in constant fear of exposing themselves to the infection and also fear carrying the infection to their families, many experience anxiety and depression for not being able to do enough for patients and face severe burnout, emotional distress, stigma and discrimination.”

“UNFPA in collaboration with iCALL, Tata Institute of Social Sciences is taking a small step by initiating a helpline for providing psychosocial support to these warriors on the frontline. We hope they are able to utilize the services of SWAASTHI to discuss any fears and questions they might have and prevent burn out,” added Piccin.

The helpline will be available in four languages Hindi, English, Marathi, Malayalam from Monday to Saturday / 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The helpline number is 9152987824.

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