Mental Health in India has always been a subject less talked about. Older adults, in particular, find it difficult to express their mental health issues and get treatment for the same. In a country where more than 14 million older adults suffer from some kind of mental disorder, it is a necessity to address these issues.
One of the biggest hurdles that elderly face when it comes to addressing mental issues is acceptance. Most of them do not even realize that they have a mental illness until it is too late. Another problem is difficulty in opening up about their feelings due to fear of judgment – be it from society or their own family. The societal conditioning is such that it has made visiting a psychiatrist also a taboo subject. You must be really crazy to be seeing a psychiatrist is what people presume. This restricts a majority of people seeking help for their mental disorders.
Also Read: Depression in Indian Older Adults
However, seeing the unwillingness of older adults to visit a therapist and the low number of therapists as compared to the high number of older adults with mental disorders, a number of organizations have started online and telephonic call centres for specialized help. These centres provide a platform for older adults to seek help or even simply talk about their problems from the comfort of their homes.
Here’s a list of online and telephonic Counselling Centres in India:
Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) has taken an initiative to improve mental health and related infrastructure in India. They have developed a chat service called iCall which is available from 8 am to 10 pm from Monday to Saturday. This service provides complete anonymity and older adults can freely call and talk about their issues without the fear of being judged or someone else coming to know about their mental condition. This is a filed project taken up by the School of Human Ecology. TISS has also introduced MA Social Work in Mental Health to develop more awareness of mental health in India.
Helpline Number: 022-25521111
In 2014, Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone talked about her own experience with depression at the peak of her career. In 2015, she launched The Live Love Laugh Foundation on World Mental Health Day on October 15th. The Live Love Laugh Foundation is an NGO that works to reduce the social stigma attached to mental health and to bring out more people to talk about it.
Recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Columbia University professor and Padma Shri recipient Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, gave a series of lectures talking about the hope the Foundation was creating for people with mental issues over the world and giving people a way to heal.
The Foundation conducts school programs to educate teachers and students on stress, anxiety, and depression.
Sahai was founded in 2002 by KK Rajagopal. It is a counselling platform for people who have stress, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
KK Rajagopal himself went through severe depression after losing his daughter in an accident and started this organization to help others. Sahai is backed solidly by the National Institute of Medical Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), the Rotary Club, and the Medico Pastoral Association. It has 20 volunteers trained from NIMHANS and other psychiatrists. The service is totally free of cost and if you are willing to have a face-to-face session, you are referred to MPA counsellors.
Helpline Number: 080-25497777, 988644075
The Vandrevala Foundation was founded by the entrepreneur couple Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala and Cyrus Vandrevala in 2008. This non-profit organization strives to eradicate social stigma and false information regarding mental health all over India.
They provide telephonic assistance for people with mental disorders in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati. The Foundation also provides around-the-clock counselling centre in Mumbai for all mental health issues.
Domestic and International – +91-7304599836, +91-7304599837
Domestic Landline – 02612667600, 18002333330
Also Read: 5 Apps for Older Adults to Fight Depression
This Foundation is an NGO that provides knowledge service regarding mental disorders. They release visual and digital content to help people understand mental disorders, including their rights and responsibilities and laws that protect them. The platform has a team of 500 experts and looks to reach as many people, both young and old, as possible so that they are educated about mental health. The platform is available in six languages, English, Telugu, Bangla, Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam.
Several other organizations have helplines with the White Swan Foundation.
YOURDost is a startup founded by Richa Singh in 2014. It focuses on mental health and connects with individuals who have depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. It has a team of psychiatrists and psychologists. They conduct various workshops to help people tackle their mental health issues. Those who need help can connect with psychiatrists to talk about their mental issues without judgment. There are also several discussions on the challenges that such people face on an everyday basis when they have a mental disorder.
Arpita Foundation is a non-profit organization in Bengaluru that provides professional assistance and guidance for resolving mental health disorders. It has a team of volunteers and counselors who specialize in dealing with mental issues. There are doctors and mental health experts who provide face-to-face counseling and referrals for further treatment as well.
Helpline Number: +91-8040503700, 080-23655557 (10 am to 1 pm, Monday to Saturday), [email protected]
Mitram Foundation is an NGO that focuses on lending an ear to the issues older adults face. It does not exclusively focus on mental health issues. Instead, it urges people to call them if they are going through any kind of difficulty and hear out their issues without judgment.
Helpline Number: 080-25722573 (10 am to 2 pm, Monday to Saturday)
Sumaitri is an NGO that deals as an intervention centre for depression and suicide. They recognize that depression is often accompanied by suicidal thoughts and the most common cause for suicides in older adults in India is depression. They provide online counselling as well. It was launched in1988 ad has helped over a lakh people via phone and visits. Counselling is free and the anonymity of the caller is maintained at all times.
Helpline Number: 011-23389090 (2 pm to 10 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 10 pm Saturday and Sunday)
COOJ Mental Health Foundation is a charitable trust that works for promoting mental health awareness in Goa. They connect with people affected by mental health disorders and disabilities. They also run mental health clinics, daycare centres, support groups, rural camps, workshops, awareness programs, and a suicide prevention helpline. They also advocate the rights of individuals with mental illnesses.
COOJ strives to create a more humane and tolerant society where every individual will be accepted without judgment and given a chance to progress.
Helpline Number: +91 9822562522, 0832-2260080, 0832-2501684
Roshni Trust operates from Hyderabad and provides various services like counseling, palliative care and recreation centre for people with mental illnesses. It has a telephonic platform for depressed and suicidal people to talk about their feelings. All their services are free and the caller is guaranteed complete anonymity. They work tirelessly to alleviate mental despair and depression and create more awareness about mental health issues.
Helpline Number: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
Samaritans Mumbai is a branch of Samaritans UK, the first one to be established outside of England. They have been working actively in the field of mental health and seek to provide support to those suffering from mental illnesses since 1968. They also conduct workshops for improving listening skills and crisis intervention.
Helpline Number: +91 8422984528, +91 8422984529, +91 8422984530
13) Bharosa Cell
Pune police has taken this initiative to counsel older adults in distress due to abuse. Bharosa Cell (Cops Hub) is a place where the elderly, women and children can directly approach the police with their issues or also opt for telephonic counseling. In cases of extreme abuse, Bharosa Cell helps the victims file complaints and assists them in the path of justice.
Helpline Number: 1090/1098
Mental health issues should be addressed on priority and if reaching out to doctors in person is a hitch for you, try the above telephonic counseling numbers and get the help at your earliest.
At HappyAging too we welcome your queries and concerns. We intend to provide optimum solutions to you in terms of guidance, awareness and connecting you with relevant doctors and health professionals.
Do let us know your views on mental wellbeing in the comments below or write to us on [email protected]
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