January 22, 2022

GAPIO in collaboration with Indian Psychiatric Society launches Mental Health Support Helpline for healthcare workers to address Covid-19 related mental health issues

Staff Reporter –

The second wave of COVID-19 has led to significant challenges with medical, nursing and allied healthcare workers experiencing stress, depression and distress during the discharge of their duties towards patient care. Ensuring mental wellbeing of Healthcare Workers (HCWs) is of prime importance to the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) as well as its collaborating partners – the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), the Canada India Network  Society (CINS), Canadian  Association  of Physicians of Indian Heritage (CAPIH), Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association (AIMGA), Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), British Indian Psychiatric Association (BIPA), Chennai Unitedand Health Net Global (HNG). Together these organizations today announced the launched of the Mental Health Helpline for HCW’s facing mental health issues.

Announcing the launch, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group and Founder President, GAPIO said, “This is a very challenging and difficult time. An exponential rise in the cases of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression amongst healthcare and frontline workers has been seen. With the support of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals, the mental health needs of HCWs needs to be addressed. We hope this helpline will ameliorate the stress and challenges that HCW’s are facing amidst this unprecedented crisis.”

Dr. Anupam SibalPresident GAPIO, said, “This Mental Health helpline has been created with the aim to provide doctors, nurses, allied healthcare workers and volunteers an advisor to cope with anxiety and stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Peer support sessions

will be available to provide support. There will also be an opportunity for individual sessions and referrals, where needed, to be organized”.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President, AAPI and Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President Elect AAPI 2021-2022 said, “The United States has passed through a similar situation which India is facing today. It was difficult for American doctors and other recipients / HCWs who faced extreme work pressure, stress and fear. Our learnings from the American experience will help support this helpline.”

Dr. Ramesh Mehta, President BAPIO and Past President GAPIO said, “Due the relentless efforts to fight the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, doctors, nurses and allied healthcare workers have pushed themselves beyond their physical and psychological limitations. It has not only impacted their physical health but has also impacted their mental wellbeing”.

Dr. Gautam SahaPresident IPS assured that psychiatrists from India will do everything possible to put back the mental health to a level as existed before the declaration of COVID-19 pandemic. He added that this mental helpline will offer free online services to medical and allied healthcare workers.

Prof JS Bamrah CBE, Chairman of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) said that “the services of the support groups already working in UK will be extended to India.”

Dr. Ananta Dave, President of British Indian Psychiatric Association (BIPA) said “India is going through one of the most devastating and traumatic times in its history due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The doctors and nurses are doing their best under unimaginable circumstances to take care of people and this is taking a toll on their emotional wellbeing too. BIPA would like to acknowledge this hard work, courage and commitment and do what it can to support our colleagues in India, which is close to our hearts”.

Dr. Arun Garg, President CINS said, “We must do all we can to heal our healers and this helpline will be of immense help.”

Dr. Sunil Patel, President of CAPIH, said that “Canadian Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage will whole heartedly support this initiative during challenging times faced by our motherland”.

Dr. Sanku RaoPast President AAPI and GAPIO, said “I salute collective strength of the Physicians of Indian origin and the force multiplier effect that they will have. We must find ways to relieve stress and emotional trauma from the minds of healthcare workers”.

Dr. Nandakumar JairamVice President of GAPIO applauded the front-line warriors who have served as pillars of strength in this difficult time and acknowledged the contribution of each and every healthcare professional.

Dr. Palu MalaowallaPresident-AMIGAAustralia said “We must take urgent steps to provide all possible support in the form of counseling and advice to all HCWs”.

Dr. Sudhir ParikhSecretary General of GAPIO said, “The Global Indian Physicians COVID-19 Collaborative has brought together Physicians of Indian origin from 53 countries. Mental health support for doctors and healthcare workers is extremely important and the need of the hour”.

Mr. Vikram Thaploo – CEO, HealthNet Global and Apollo Telehealth said,“ HealthNet Global is the technology partner for the web application assisting with the implementation and optimisation of the technical aspects of the initiative”.

“Chennai United” has extensive experience to run a helpline call centres during COVID 19. Chennai United will provide helpline number with volunteers for receiving calls from healthcare workers.

“Five Minutes” is providing the technology platform on which the Recipients/ HCWs and peer support providers / counsellors/ advisors will interact. Five Minutes will execute the program for smooth functioning.

Healthcare Workers can go to https://chennaiunited.org/helpline/ to enter their request. Alternatively, they can call the helpline number 7292018816 where requests will be taken in English, Hindi and Tamil.    

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