Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], June 30 (ANI): As part of efforts to improve the mental well being of the people of Jammu and Kashmir amid COVID-19, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) on Wednesday inaugurated the 'Sukoon', the union territory's first 24x7 counselling helpline number to provide mental health counselling.
The name of the program literally translates to 'relief' and its main goal is to provide guidance to people dealing with anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, panic attacks and several other mental issues.
According to Haseeb Rehman, Commandant of the First Battalion, the program has been initiated in coordination and consultation with doctors and mental health experts.
"When I was first posted here, a majority of calls we received were of suicide. People would call us very often to ask us to retrieve dead bodies. We decided to launch this helpline as a solution to this problem," he said.
"We hope that people who are depressed, anxious or addicted to drugs, can find a helping hand through this helpline. We have coordinated with professionals and doctors for this initiative and many experts are a part of the advisory board," Rehman added.
To access 24x7 services, people have to dial the toll-free number 1800-1807159.
"We are very proud of this initiative. This helpline will help people a lot. Suicide cases have been increasing and more and more people going into depression each day. Some even have to face domestic violence at home," said Firdous Ahmad, an operator.
After attending the inauguration of the helpline, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar told ANI that there are several other schemes to help people after the call.
"The main goal of 'Sukoon' is to provide immediate relief and help youth who feel depressed and anxious. We have a lot of other schemes as well for their well being and rehabilitation," he said.
The timing of the launch has also been lauded by many. With several people slowly recovering from COVID-19, the youth are glad that they have a means of coping with lockdown blues.
"In the last few months, we have seen an increasing rate of suicidal attempts. Especially amid COVID, people have had to endure lockdowns, schools across the country are closed," said Dr Muzzafar Khan, Clinical Head of a Drugs De-addiction Centre.
"The immediate goal of this is to receive a call from distressed persons and listen to their grievances, all seven days of the week. The next aim is to mobilise support for them," he said.
Reyaz Ahmad, a young local resident welcomed the move by the SDRF saying, "The Sukoon helpline is a great step as people are facing issue of depression." (ANI)