Cyrus & Priya Vandrevala Foundation launched its mental health India Initiative in 2009. The major initiative focuses on the following areas.
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In pursuit of the above areas, the Foundation has undertaken a number of activities. These are all ongoing activities and not one-off campaigns. We believe that persistent, long-term efforts will have a more significant impact than short bursts of activity.
The Foundation established a mental health helpline in Mumbai, India, in August 2009. It works on a two-tier system.
The first line is trained clinical psychologists. The second line is experienced psychologists & psychiatrists.
The Helpline operates round the clock and is run as a professional unit with counsellors being paid market rates. The helpline operates on a cloud telephony platform. The counsellors document all calls on software that helps them retrieve previous call history quickly and allows for demographic studies.
The Helpline has put in place arrangements with public services such as the police, ambulance services and hospitals. The Helpline has also tied up with professional bodies. In October 2011, the Foundation created a new hub for the helpline in Delhi, India. This was with help from Emmanuel Hospital Association, St Stephen is hospital and Mar Thoma Church. Later in August 2013 another hub at Surat (Gujarat) was added. In 2015 our hub extended to Ghandhinagar ( Gujarat). This is with help of Gujarat Police (Suraksha Setu) and philanthropists. Over the years, the Helpline has helped many people, which includes the entire spectrum from people seeking information, to people at risk of harm who our counsellors work with.
The Helpline till date has answered more then five lakhs (0.50 million) calls averaging now at about 6000 per month. The Helpline also answers 3000 plus mails a month. The newly added chat and WhatsApp services has become very popular with the younger generation. One of the unique features of the helpline is that if a call is missed as the counsellors are busy, the system generates an alert and call back facility is available. Red flag policy for severe cases too is incorporated in the system.
The Foundation has collaborated with schools and colleges to raise awareness and remove stigma. In 2011, when the city of Mumbai suffered a spate of student suicides, the Foundation Helpline was declared by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation as the official helpline that students could call.