Raintree Foundation supports village communities in Pune worst affected by the pandemic
Mental health is fast emerging as a major concern as the world battles the Covid pandemic. Even the United Nations issued a policy brief this week warning countries about the need to address the mental health issues that are being faced by children, people with disabilities, migrants and healthcare workers. In rural Pune, one organisation, Raintree Foundation, has started counselling services for rural communities affected by the pandemic.
From food shortages to loss of income and large-scale reverse migration, rural communities in India are bearing the brunt of the Covid pandemic.
Among the worst affected are the rural communities in Velhe in Maharashtra’s Pune district. This region was among the earliest to be severely affected by the pandemic.
Reaching out to support them is the Raintree Foundation. The organisation focuses on nine villages in Velhe Block across areas like community development, environmental conservation and disability and mental health.
Support address physical & mental needs
The support being offered is across many areas. Raintree has provided over 260 dry ration kits to affected rural families. The aim is to ensure no one goes hungry. It has also started community WhatsApp groups to check the spread of false news and disinformation and ensure villagers get official updates and information regularly. The groups also disseminate tips on how to cope with the pandemic.
Mental health is key given the many pressures people are facing. Raintree Foundation has started a professional counselling service where clinical psychologists reach out to the community and frontline public officials, police and medical staff in Velhe. There are plans to extend this to more zilla parishad workers in Pune district.
Mental health care is the need of the hour as we have seen an unprecedented rise in stress and anxiety across the population, especially frontline workers who are working tirelessly for our safety. – Leena Dandekar, Founder, Raintree Foundation
Reaching out to urban populations
Raintree is also looking to support communities outside Velhe Block. It has partnered with Wellbeing Volunteers United to extend counselling support to urban populations. This is a volunteer-run helpline that is available for any one feeling stressed, anxious or isolated. A team of expert psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is available for more serious concerns.
“Hindi, English, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Konkani are languages being offered by over 600 volunteer counsellors”, ads Leena. The initiative is also supported by the government of Goa and Maharashtra State Commission for Women. “We hope our counselling and helpline services can offer some respite and provide the necessary support during this difficult time”.
To reach out for support, call this toll-free counselling helpline 1800-121-0980.
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