( April 15, 2020 )
As the government extends the lockdown, non-governmental organisation Smile Foundation on Wednesday said it plans to reach out to 40,000 families in the next one month across 14 states for providing psychological counselling through tele-calling. A pilot phase of tele-counselling, which started a week ago in Howrah, Kolkata, scanned about 250 patients a day and the programme is now going national, it said.
"With the lockdown being extended, our beneficiaries need us more than ever to be there for them. Through this directly connecting with beneficiaries, we aim to create a sense of security and also help in addressing their fears," Smile Foundation co-founder and executive trustee Santanu Mishra said in a statement. Suicidal tendencies, fears and anxieties have gripped the poor and migrant labour populations who have been the worst affected by the sudden decision of lockdown by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus, he said.
Smile Foundation, which works on primary healthcare, has drawn out a plan to reach out to these marginalised populations and help them fight their fears and anxiety in this period of lockdown through mental health counselling. In the coming days, the state governments will be scaling up screening operations in coronavirus-hit states namely Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh.
"Over the next couple of weeks, trained counsellors, doctors, nurses from Smile Foundation will be making several thousand calls to all beneficiaries within our network and partner organisations to ease out their angst caused by the spread of the deadly coronavirus," Smile Foundation Health Lead Satnam Singh said. Last week, the Foundation started its first phase of ration distribution reaching out to 40,000 families across 10 states.
Over the coming weeks, the foundation aims to reach out to another 1,10,000 families across 19 states and help them meet their daily nutrition needs, as well as sanitation needs like masks, soaps, sanitary napkins and sanitisers, the statement added..