HT Salutes: A helping hand to tackle mental health issues
Ankit Gupta, a content writer and Urdu poet who has been living in Delhi for the past year, has been using Twitter to connect those expressing a need for mental health help with two psychologists based in Mumbai and Delhi.Updated: Jul 15, 2020 07:41 IST
A 32-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with clinical depression two years ago, was forced to skip the appointments with her psychiatrist for three months after the lockdown was imposed in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). A cash crunch — her spouse had lost his job and income was tight — made it difficult for her to continue her therapy. But she resumed her sessions in the last week of June. And it was a stranger on Twitter who made it happen, as he offered to pay for her next few counselling sessions.
Ankit Gupta, a content writer and Urdu poet who has been living in Delhi for the past year, has been using Twitter to connect those expressing a need for mental health help with two psychologists based in Mumbai and Delhi, who have slashed fees and agreed to conduct online or telephonic counselling during the lockdown.
“Ever since the lockdown was implemented, I’ve heard of several people losing jobs and therefore being unable to afford their psychiatric treatments. Professional mental health is expensive in India, and I know this because I have myself overcome depression. I know how tough the struggle is,” said the 27-year-old.
Watch | HT Salutes: Delhi poet who arranges free mental health counselling sessions
The idea to help people access mental healthcare was sparked by the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who died by suicide on June 14. That’s when he tweeted out his offer to fund counselling sessions for people who couldn’t afford a counsellor.
After the tweet offering to help pay for counselling sessions, more than 20 people connected with him almost immediately. “I asked them for basic information: were they consulting a doctor for the first time, or did they need to continue their treatment. Accordingly I connected them with either of the two therapists who are helping me,” said Gupta.
In most cases, people shared their inability to continue treatment due to increasing costs. “Both of them (counsellors) have been charging a nominal fee of ₹300 per session and have been conducting virtual therapy sessions for over 35 people in the last three weeks,” said Gupta.
Mental health experts, who have been witnessing a consistent spike in cases of anxiety and depression among all age groups, lauded Gupta’s efforts.
“Not only is the pandemic an unprecedented time, but anxiety and claustrophobia is taking over daily routine because people are understanding that this is going to be the way of life for some time now,” said clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany.