At a well-attended ceremony in Surat today the Vandrevala Foundation and the Suraksha Sethu Trust of the Gujarat police formally launched the 24×7 mental health helpline for residents of Gujarat. The helpline has been in operation since 15th August 2013 and after a successful trial run for three weeks was formally launched today on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention day. The mental health helpline can be reached from anywhere in India on 1 860 266 2345.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in five Indians (more than 200 million people) will suffer from a mental health challenge in their lifetime. Reduction in life expectancy due to mental illnesses is equal to that caused by smoking and greater than that caused by obesity. To address this challenge, the Vandrevala Foundation launched its first mental health helpline in Mumbai in August 2009. The helpline is staffed by trained counselors with academic qualifications in Clinical Psychology. They are supported by experienced psychiatrists. Subsequently in October 2011, a second center of the helpline was established in Delhi. Since inception the counselors on the helpline have handled in excess of fifty thousand calls covering a variety of mental health conditions as well as those seeking information. With the launch of its third center in Surat the helpline’s services are now available to Guajaratis in their mother-tongue. Advanced telecommunications and IT link all three centers of Mumbai, Surat and Delhi ensuring calls are handled by the right center.
The Chief Guest, Commissioner of Police (Surat) lauded the joint initiative of the Gujarat police and the Vandrevala Foundation, saying “This was a much needed initiative in Gujarat and it will help Police reach out to the common man.”
Mr. Pradeep Shejul, SP (Rural) of the Gujarat Police said on the occasion, “We are pleased to launch this new initiative in community services by the Police. The experience and technical involvement of the Vandrevala Foundation has been critical in this joint effort to provide help to mental health sufferers and their families in the State. Elsewhere the Vandrevala Foundation involves the police as a part of follow up effort. I am pleased that in Surat the Police will be involved right from the beginning of the process and not just in the follow up.”
Dr. Arun John, Executive Vice President, Vandrevala Foundation commented,” In our effort to make our services as widely available as possible we could not have hoped for a better partner than the Gujarat police. We are especially pleased to launch this new center in Surat – the only city working on a global model where the hospitals, police, government and NGOs all work together. We cannot remove stigma without all the forces working together recognizing that mental illness is an illness that needs treatment.”
The launch was preceded by rallies in Surat and 22 other locations in Surat district to raise awareness about mental health and to fight stigma associated with mental illness.
About Vandrevala Foundation
The Vandrevala Foundation is a social enterprise founded by Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala who are entrepreneurs in technology, outsourcing and real estate. The Foundation is active around the world in the area of mental health. The Foundation pursues a three-pronged strategy: Awareness – about mental health issues and fighting stigma; Access – to professional help and resources through its helpline; Advocacy – working with government, media, business and other like-minded bodies to improve mental health services and campaign against stigma. As a part of this effort the Foundation operates a professionally run 24 x 7 mental health helpline. The helpline can be reached from anywhere in India on 1 860 266 2345.