What we all know is that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for a long time to come in our lives. At times like these, you may need some non-judgemental, unbiased help, to sort through emotions and stress. Here’s a list of counselling services offering support that you can easily avail from anywhere in the country.
Since 2019, Obuka (meaning ‘nurture’ in Serbian) has been working towards nurturing a culture of mental well-being through a process of awareness, acceptance, and action. The organisation has partnered with various counsellors, expressive art practitioners, and social workers who align with their vision. Besides their awareness programs in companies and schools, Obuka offers support through one-on-one counselling, group counselling, peer support, as well as befriender training and support for adults.
For children, they offer counselling, expressive art sessions, family support in addition to parenting workshops. Obuka also works on a survivor centred approach to minimise re-traumatisation in domestic violence cases. In the last six months, they have dealt with cases concerning domestic violence, stress during the lockdown, and parenting concerns.
Tel: +91 99726 26216
Since 1995, the organisation has been offering counselling services via a telephone helpline and consultation services in mental health and research. In-person counselling services are available at their centre in Bengaluru, and online counselling is pan-India and to clients living abroad; currently, all counselling has been moved online.
Most Parivarthan counsellors have a Masters in Psychology and other specialised training, in the field with experience ranging from three to 20 years. There are 15 counsellors at their centre and under their outreach services, and 15 counsellors on their helpline services. Malini Sridhar, executive director, says that anxiety, loneliness, and a lack of personal space are the key worries that they have addressed.
Tel: +91 80 2527 3462, +91 80 2529 8696
Prerna Academy offers counselling to adults, children, seniors on a range of mental health issues. The Academy has around 10 qualified counsellors on board, with a large network of volunteer counsellors. Prerna Academy began offering free counselling services to those in need for two months starting April 1. From the interactions so far, counsellors have found managing children and the question of when the crisis will end being at the top of the list of worries.
Tel: +91 99800 72005
People Tree Maarga has an integrated service profile providing specialised, holistic care for all age groups and all types of mind-care services for adults and children. This includes (during normal times) day-care services, acute and emergency care with state-of-the-art Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, complete with seclusion facility, and rehabilitation services in Yelahanka, Bengaluru. Currently, those struggling with isolation and loneliness, and who might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious and drained, can reach out.
Tel: +91 80 4665 9999
Independent Counsellor/Psychologist Sangita Unni
A counsellor and a mental health and wellness consultant since 2010, Sangita Unni is based in Bengaluru. Besides her practice, she is an associate with Augmenta Health + Inner Dawn Counselling and Training Services. Her clients range from 8-72 years of age and comprise a multicultural population, including LGBT, individuals, and couples/families.
Unni has dealt with issues such as stress, workplace wellness, child sexual abuse survivors /caregivers, suicide ideation/attempt, relationship management both at personal and professional spaces, existential crisis, anger /anxiety management, psychosomatic issues, and mental illness supportive therapy.
Depending on client need and time availability, she uses a solution-focused approach or a psychotherapeutic client centred dynamic engagement. Unni is currently offering counselling services through virtual video sessions and face to face.
Tel: +91 99169 93101
Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences began its COVID-19 helpline a while ago, to help people deal with related psycho-social issues; to date, they have reportedly fielded over 16,000 calls from all over India, in collaboration with local authorities. NIMHANS has around 300 workers all over India, and calls are handled through an interactive cloud-based voice recording system.
Counselling is available for children, teens, adults, senior citizens on a range of issues including substance withdrawal symptoms. There is also a national action plan in the making to deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
Tel: +91 80 4611 0007
The Khayaal apnaa, Khayaal apnon ka (Caring for Each Other) initiative is one that supports young children and helps families across India stay physically and emotionally healthy. Their easy-to-use and shareable content/resources are designed to help parents provide comfort and manage anxiety, as well as help with routines, playful learning at home, and staying physically and mentally healthy.
Mindful that the adults who care for children need support too, the resources help caregivers as well as children. Sesame Workshop India is offering the content free of cost, and it can be distributed and shared on radio and digitally through mobile phones, community media, and other platforms. The audio and video content is available in English and 11 Indian languages, across TV, radio, and digital platforms operated by Government of India and private media houses.
Nagpur-based Motivated Steps, an online counselling platform, offers both free and paid counselling services across the country and internationally as well. For free service, book through their website. The team has done more than 500 sessions since they first began offering services on April 1 and will continue till the end of the lockdown. Key issues they have dealt with are anxiety of the prevailing situation, relationship issues, and lack of confidence.
All illustrations: Getty Images