Srinagar:  Jammu and Kashmir administration has formed a WhatsApp group of psychiatrists and counselors to reach out to the stranded Kashmiris who are battling depression in different states due to the lockdown

 `COVID Counselling Kashmir’ has more than 30 senior psychiatrists, registrars, and counselors as members including the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole.

“The contact numbers of distress callers are routed from Divisional Commissioner’s office to the online group. Any of the members who are free that time, attend to the concerned person,” said Dr. Yasir H Rather, Associate Professor, Psychiatry department who is one of the members of the group.

Dr. Rather said during their counseling sessions, they have encountered many people whose stories tore them up.

Sample this: A student in his twenties had suicidal tendencies. He feared he will die alone without ever meeting his family.

“It might have been in the night hours when I received this distress call. He was weeping loudly. He told me before coronavirus gets hold of him, it is better to kill himself. He was worried that he would forever be stuck at this place and never meets his parents. I calmed him down and with frequent counseling sessions, he is much better today,” said one of the counselors.

Dr. Yasir noted mental strength differs from person to person and people who are presently living alone without families can be affected adversely. “They can show symptoms of increased anxiety, sleeping disorders, and irritability. All these factors combined can make this period difficult to deal with,” he said.

The group receives around 10-11 distress requests a week.

Doctors in the group believe that in the current crisis, the platform has come across as a good interface between them and the administration. “Besides an online presence ensures that help reaches the maximum number of people and is a great way of reaching out to the community,” Dr. Junaid Nabi Bhat, Lecturer, Psychiatry department who is also part of the group.

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When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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