In Bihar, 14,000 migrants seek counselling to overcome lockdown blues
Most of them were reported to have been suffering from depression, anxiety, apprehensions and sleeplessness.Updated: Jul 18, 2020 21:36 IST
Nearly 14,000 migrant labourers who returned to their natives places in Bihar from other states during the Covid-19 lockdown have sought counselling and psychological help from mental health professionals in the last three and a half months, shows the data of the Bihar State Health Society (BSHS).
Most of them were reported to have been suffering from depression, anxiety, apprehensions and sleeplessness.
Among 38 districts of the state, Banka had the maximum number of such cases. Altogether 1,847 migrants in Banka have sought counselling facility between April and first fortnight of July this year.
Muzaffarpur was next where 1,744 migrants consulted counsellors during this period, followed by Gopalganj (1,539) and Arwal (1,348).
Araria reported the minimum number of such cases (15) while the capital Patna reported a modest 253 cases.
The BSHS has been running a mental health programme for the migrants affected by Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. In April this year, it had started ‘Ummeed’, a counselling and medical treatment facility for mental health problems among migrant labourers, people in health quarantine and isolation centres. All district hospitals, community health centres, primary health centres and quarantine centres and isolation centres were asked to provide necessary counselling and psychiatrist support services to Covid-19 affected people.
“Since April 5 to July 16, 2020, we have 13,930 mental health cases. But the actual number must be much higher. We all know that a large number of people don’t understand they need counselling and mental support services. Many migrant labourers may not be aware of this,” Preeti Bajpai, state consultant, mental health programme of the BSHS, said.
“We also involved ASHAs (accredited social health activists) or the community workers and ANMs (auxiliary nurse midwives) who are the village level female health workers, the first contact person between the community and health services. They intimate us about the cases,” she said.
Nipurnh Gupta, communication officer, Unicef, said these ASHAs and ANMs were given online orientation training. “They are also making migrants aware about mental health treatment facilities created for them by the government,” she said.
Dr Rajesh, the monitoring and evaluation officer, mental health programme at the BSHS, said the effort has been to reach migrants located even in remote areas “We knew the loss of income and jobs among them, insecurities and isolation would affect their mental health,” he said. To mitigate all this, there was the need of mental health services, he said.