The UNDP iCall helpline can be reached at (+91)9152987825 (10 am to 6 pm, Mon to Sat) and (+91)22-25521111 (Mon to Sat: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm)
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Due to the unprecedented spread of COVID-19, which has been declared as a pandemic by WHO, there has been the rise of distress calls from all levels of society, due to several reasons (special mention to issues related to lockdown and pandemic).
Now a million dollars question arises, “Where to call up in call of any help required like Panic Attack and other Mental Health-related problems, faced during lockdown and life in the times of COVID?”
So, Team Explicit Facts has worked hard and explored the unchartered waters of understanding the issues related to the distress facilities available within India and abroad, which will surely blow everyone’s imagination.
Without wasting any further time let’s dive into the topic, “Where to Call for Solve Mental Health Problems? iCall Helpline!”.
Mental health facilities in India are still quite insufficient owing to the limited number of services being offered as well as, the inadequate number of trained and supervised professionals.
Helpline counseling is a non-traditional form of providing mental health support. It helps in eliminating geographical limitations, is free, and is completely confidential and with the advancement of technology, accessing this help has become easier.
iCALL – (Initiating Concern for All) is a pioneering and empowering mental health project which was started in 2012 by the School of Human Ecology, TISS – Mumbai.
iCALL endeavors to provide professional and free counseling through technology-assisted mediums such as telephone, email, and chat to anyone in need of emotional support, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, or race, and transcending geographical distances while ensuring confidentiality.
Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) has always taken a lead in addressing the psychosocial needs of individuals across various groups and has adopted diverse strategies and solutions to address these needs.
iCALL is one such step taken in the direction of mental health work.
iCall is a telephone and email-based counselling service run by the School of Human Ecology, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, that offers free telephone and email-based counseling services, to individuals in emotional and psychological distress, across age, language, gender, sexual orientation, and issues, through a team of qualified and trained mental health professionals.
iCall usually offers free counselling to those in emotional distress.
iCALL’s counseling services are run by professional, trained counsellors, from Monday to Saturday, 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
iCALL also has partnerships and collaborations with academic institutions, corporates, government, and non-government bodies.
Faculty from the School of Human Ecology is involved in an advisory capacity in the project, such as recruiting of counsellors, training, and monitoring and evaluation of service delivery.
Professional counseling services – All our counselors and qualified and trained to provide skilled mental health services
Connected to a counselor immediately – You will not encounter a busy tone or IVR during our work hours and will be connected to a counselor immediately
Complete anonymity – You do not need to share your name or personal identifying information about yourself
Non- judgmental treatment – You can talk to us about any issue bothering or affecting you without the fear of being judged by the counselors
Consistent support – We will be there to support you till you feel empowered to deal with your situation or issue
The iCall helpline can identify the caller’s location or state and can guide them towards the appropriate help as well as link them to social protection schemes.
This will not just focus on mental health support but also integrate livelihood issues which is UNDP’s approach of picking up emerging issues as a part of its work.
The service will be made available on email, phone, and chat in Hindi and English in 13 Indian states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, and Telangana.
Conducting workshops and training for corporates, educational institutions, government agencies, and NGOs it is partnered with. The content and length of these workshops and training could be based on the specific needs of these organizations
Mental health outreach activities for institutions via conferences, events, posters, brochures, and talks
Free newsletters for the public at large which aim at awareness building and preventive work
Our social media outreach also addresses mental health awareness for the public at large
Employee assistance programs for corporates
At iCALL, there is a special focus on the marginalized sections of our society such as women facing violence, children facing abuse, the LGBT community, socioeconomically marginalized groups and the survivors of mental illness.
1. What can I talk about here?
2. How iCall Helpline Helps?
iCALL can provide you with help in the following ways:
3. Who am I talking to when accessing services at iCall Helpline?
At iCALL, all telephone, email, and chat are attended to by trained and qualified mental health professionals who work on a full-time basis with the helpline.
Each of our team members has a Master’s degree in either Clinical Psychology or Counselling Psychology and extensive training to help individuals facing a wide range of issues and challenges.
4. How much can I share with iCall Helpline operator?
There is no restriction on what you can share with the counselor if you are comfortable with it.
Everything you share with a counselor remains confidential between you and the counselors at iCALL.
The communication is done anonymously, and no personal identifying details are mandatorily taken from you.
A very high frequency of calls is not encouraged, to avoid dependence on the counselors.
However, more than one call in a day can be accommodated at times, considering the sensitivity of the concern, after coming to a consensus about the same with the counsellor.
5. Will everything I share be told to someone?
At iCALL, we follow the policy of shared confidentiality.
After each telephone, email, and chat, information about the case is shared with the other counselors at the helpline.
Since your call or email can be answered by a different counselor each time, shared confidentiality helps us ensure that every counselor has the necessary information and understanding of the case.
This helps to maintain the flow of counseling for you while ensuring that you do not have to repeat any of the information already shared.
6. Do I need to tell you my name?
No, you do not need to disclose your name to us.
7. Can I talk about personal issues/ sexual concerns?
Yes, absolutely. We have numerous clients who have called us and continue to call us to share several very personal and sensitive issues. We ensure that all the concerns shared are listened to and dealt with in the most empathetic and professional way.
8. Will my contact details be recorded?
Our data management software generates a unique profile for you based on your telephone number, which then helps us pick up from where we left off in our previous session with you.
Rest assured that your identity/location is not being tracked using your telephone number.
Your number will never be published anywhere, and you will never receive unsolicited communication from our end.
Even in cases of crisis where we may be required to proactively reach out to you, this shall be done with your knowledge and consent as far as possible.
9. Is my location being tracked?
No, your location is not being tracked.
10. Is my phone call being recorded?
During the current pandemic, as the team is working remotely, the calls are being audio recorded for monitoring purposes and for ensuring quality checks of the services offered.
However, the data will be stored securely, and all necessary steps are being taken to ensure complete confidentiality.
These recordings will only be accessed by the counselors working at iCALL and will not be made public or be shared with any third party.
11. Where are iCall Helpline centers based?
iCALL is based in Mumbai but we cannot disclose the location of the helpline in the interest of the safety and confidentiality of our counsellors.
In the current pandemic, the team is working remotely from different parts of the country.
12. What are the fees for accessing iCall Helpline services?
At iCALL our Counseling services are free, but you will have to pay the call charges as per your telecom provider.
13. In which languages are iCall Helpline services available?
The languages offered at iCALL are Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Konkani.
14. How many times can I call in a day?
For the effectiveness of the counselling process and for the optimum utilization of time on the helpline, it is encouraged that you have one counselling session, lasting up to 45 minutes- 1 hour, in a day.
However, more than one call in a day can be accommodated at times, considering the sensitivity of concern.
Also, ideally, the counselling sessions should be interspersed in a week, to avoid dependence on the helpline.
Between counseling sessions, the counselor may ask you to introspect and observe certain thought processes, beliefs, or emotions, the reflections from which you can share in the next session.
Besides, you may also be encouraged to work on some goals identified collaboratively with the counsellor in between sessions.
15. Can I know your name (Name of iCall Helpline agent I talk to)?
At iCALL, we follow the policy of two-way anonymity. We do not ask for your name or personal details and we do not disclose our names either.
16. Will I be given any advice?
Counseling as a process is designed to not provide advice but instead work with you to help you make decisions and find solutions.
The process of counseling is a planned and structured process of a two-way dialogue between the counselor and you.
The counselor uses their expertise to help you identify the source of your difficulties and with the use of assessments and interventions they work with you to try and find ways of addressing your concern in a way that will be acceptable to you.
This process of counseling aims at empowering the client to find solutions for himself/herself and follow them through.
17. Can I talk to just venting out?
Yes, absolutely. Please feel free to vent and share whatever you would like to. This is a safe space for you to do that.
18. Will you share what I’ve spoken about with my family/parents/teachers/company?
19. Can you call me back?
20. Can my partner and I avail a couple of counselling services here?
21. Is your helpline available on holidays?
22. Can you call someone on my behalf?
The process of counseling aims at empowering you. So, while we will not be able to call someone on your behalf our counselors will work with you and help you develop the confidence you need to make that call.
23. Can I visit you and seek face to face counseling services?
iCALL does not provide face to face counseling. We, however, have a detailed directory of mental health professionals spread all across India who provide face to face counseling.
24. Can I become a part of your organization or get involved in some way?
25. When will I receive a response to my email?
You will first receive an automated confirmation that your email has been received and a more detailed response from the counselor will follow at the earliest, depending upon the email flow.
26. Who replies to my emails?
The response to your email is sent by one of our trained and qualified counselors.
27. Can you add my name to your referral directory?
Yes, we can explore this. Please send us your details and credentials at [email protected]
28. Is this an LGBT- friendly service?
There is a conscious and collective effort made at iCALL to do specialized work for the LGBT community and other marginalized communities.
iCALL has undertaken training programs to sensitize their counselors to the concerns of the LGBTQ community and has reached out to professionals, collectives, and organizations working with the LGBT community to understand the unique stressors and concerns faced by the community.
29. Can people from other parts of the country and the world call you?
People from various parts of the country and the world do reach out to us. Geographical locations and distances are not a deterrent for you to call us. Our counseling services are free. You will, however, have to pay for the phone call charges.
30. Do you have a psychiatrist on your team?
We do not have a psychiatrist in our team. But we do have an exhaustive repository of referrals within which there are psychiatrists.
31. Can I get guidance about my medication?
We believe that the right person to guide you about your medication is your psychiatrist.
While we will not be able to guide you about your medication, we can refer you to a psychiatrist who will then guide you accordingly.
We can also provide a safe space for you to talk about your concerns and issues which may help you while you are seeing a psychiatrist for your medication.
32. Is this a safe place to talk about the violence I am facing at home?
Yes, iCALL is a very safe space to share this. We get a lot of calls from individuals facing violence or abuse at home, in their relationships, or at work.
Our counselors are sensitized and trained to deal with your most traumatic and sensitive concerns.
Since we also work with women-friendly NGOs, women-friendly shelter homes, and women-friendly government organizations, we can help you with referrals for any other assistance you might need.
33. Should I go for email or telephone-based counseling services?
If you are unsure about which form of counseling, you want to approach please read about both these processes and how they work.
You always have a choice to avail of either form of counseling and our trained counselors will respond to you on both the modalities.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, it started providing logistical support to those facing economic hardship as well.
Why? Because not having food to eat or losing a job also impacts mental health.
Pandemic has brought focus on how mental health support is integral to our well-being.
Worldwide helplines have witnessed a steep rise in the number of calls since COVID.
In India, iCALL started getting 2,000 to 3,000 calls a month on its main helpline.
There is also a spike in emails, which increased from a pre-pandemic figure of 600 a month to 500 a week.
After COVID, more people are anxious, depressed, worried and some even suicidal, and helplines have a huge role to play. Why? Because they are free, anonymous, and easily available.
These helplines can be an entry point for people who need mental health services but are unable to go to a psychologist.
In April, iCall launched a dedicated line to tackle COVID related concerns and began collating a list of organizations and food distribution services offering dry rations for online referrals.
Sometimes, they even had to direct people to their nearest gurudwara, temple, or dargah to access food.
Between April and June 2020, it received 500 calls every month.
In December 2020, UNDP India and iCall have partnered to launch a new psycho-social helpline for the vulnerable and marginalized populations such as migrants, waste pickers, people living with HIV AND LGBTQI.
Courtesy – YouTube
COVID-19 has given an opportunity to move mental health care to psychological support by adopting the human right framework while addressing the biggest need inequities of basic needs and appropriate information
Existing helplines have also ramped up efforts to cope up with the increased demands.
While iCall has already shifted to cloud-based telephony, which is more suitable in flagging crisis calls while working remotely, Vandrevala Foundation is about to do it and has partnered with other NGO helplines to divert calls.
Vanderala Foundation’s 24X7 helpline has been receiving 175 to 200 calls daily from people from all age groups and areas.
Earlier it would get calls from students trying to beat exam stress in March, every year.
In March 2020, the anxiety was about the pandemic and its outcome.
As layoffs began in April and May 2020, many had career, business, and financial concerns.
In recent months, students have been calling about trouble with online classes.
A lot of relationships have been broken down, and others have been forced to postpone their marriages.
A steep rise has been observed in calls after 10 pm from people feeling suicidal.
At iCall, calls related to domestic violence are on the rise now. The Sneha helpline has been getting more calls from women facing abuse, lonely single seniors, and children frustrated about their parents fighting.
Many calls are from young women who are working independently in cities but are now back in parental constraints without any outlets.
There are also COVID survivors who feel stigmatized by society and women experiencing bereavement after suddenly losing their husbands.
The UNDP iCall helpline can be reached at (+91)9152987825 (10 am to 6 pm, Mon to Sat) and (+91)22-25521111 (Available from Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm)
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