India Mental
Healthcare Initiative

Cyrus & Priya Vandrevala Foundation launched its mental health India Initiative in 2009. The major initiative focuses on the following areas.
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We raise awareness

  • Mental health problems and illnesses are as important as any physical health challenges
  • Anyone can be presented with mental health challenges
  • With proper treatment or control, people experiencing mental health issues can be productive members of society
  • Since mental health is no different from physical health and mental problems and illnesses are treatable, anyone suffering from a mental illness should be treated with dignity

We will improve access

  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Knowledge about mental health issues, symptoms and treatments
  • Support groups

We will advocate

  • Build support for applying necessary solutions to mental health challenges in India
  • Bring to bear best practices to address mental health issues
  • Raise awareness and fight stigma
  • Create partnerships through which the impact of efforts can be multiplied

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.

Mental Health Helpline

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.

Mental Health Helpline

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.

Awareness Campaigns

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.

Awareness Campaigns

Improvement of Mental Health Services in India

  • Worked with the Government of Maharashtra to develop a plan to improve services provided in mental health institutions within the state
  • Formed with the Director General of Shipping an agreement to be the official mental health helpline for Indian seamen around the globe and their families
  • Brought together a number of representatives of other NGOs working in the area of mental health to compare notes and share best practices
  • Created seminars involving academics, government officials and psychiatric professionals to discuss key issues in mental health in India
  • Developed a relationship with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to learn from the Canadian experience