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Help is just a call away

india Updated: Aug 08, 2007 01:45 IST
Naomi Canton

An Indian company is so convinced about the need for a service offering counselling to stressed-out employees, that it has started a business offering just that.

ICAS (Independent Counselling and Advisory Services) India is a tie-up with a British company, headquartered in Mumbai, that offers a 24-hour counselling helpline to employees in India.

Companies subscribe to its service and their staff can use it whenever they want and get advice from Mumbai-based counsellors on anything, from work stress to personal problems.

The service is confidential, but ICAS sends regular reports to its clients, advising them of the general types of stresses workers are phoning about.

Vasudevan Srinivasan, director ICASIndia, admitted he was struggling to persuade Indian HR bosses to invest in the service. So far he has just three clients in India, all based in Mumbai, of which two are MNCs.

“Many Indian companies are not convinced they need the service,” he said. “But we are trying to educate people about this service and to persuade Indians to use it. Traditionally, Indians have not used services like this, but I think more and more people are turning to professional help rather than talking to their aunt or grandma.”

Most of the calls the helpline had been getting since it started a year ago were connected to work stress, broken relationships and bereavement, he added.

Srinivasan said that in the US it was a legal requirement for companies to offer mental health services, but India was far from that because there were so many other issues to grapple with. But he predicted that telephone counselling would take off.

“Companies want to manage talent and one of the critical drivers is quality of life. It is not just about performance-related bonuses and the work itself, you have to look at the work-life balance you are offering staff,” he said.