Voice that Cares, a Psycho-Social First Aid (PSFA) helpline offered by the Heartfulness Institute and Ripples of Change Foundation (ROCF), was launched in Telugu for the general public, in collaboration with the AP State Police Department. This free helpline which is already offered in Hindi and English languages, offers free psychosocial counselling support to people in emotional and mental distress. The senior police officers in the ranks of Additional DGP, IG, DIG, SP, Commissioners and all police officers up to the rank of Sub Inspectors in the entire AP State participated in this launch event. Heartfulness Guide Daaji (Shri Kamlesh D. Patel) and Shri Gautam Sawang, Director General of Police (AP) who graced the occasion as the Chief Guests addressed the online event, stressing the urgent need to address mental health issues for people in emotional and mental distress, and help people help establish a state of inner balance and peace through meditation as an effective preventive measure against mental health problems.
Voice That Cares was launched in June 2021 amidst the peak of the COVID pandemic, with a vision to build a mentally resilient nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment of prolonged fear and uncertainty resulting in shared trauma and mental health issues across communities. Voice That Cares provides counselling support on a wide range of mental health matters including anxiety, fear, panic attacks, domestic violence, anger, pandemic induced psychological issues and more. A team of trained counsellors staff this helpline to provide counselling with empathy and care to people in distress, and offer individuals an improved ability to manage their overall wellbeing and mental health.
In the seven months since the launch, ‘Voice that cares’ has clocked 1,700 hours of counselling support to help 6,500 callers from across 23 states in India. Three out of five callers were youth between the age of 18 and 30, with depression (23%) and anxiety (17%) being the chief complaints. This service is now being offered in Telugu and rolled out across Andhra Pradesh, since 19% of the calls received were from this state.
Heartfulness Guide Daaji said, “While meditation promotes inner strength and emotional resilience and helps one establish a state of balance, someone who is already traumatized or in distress needs counselling support. In today’s stressful environment, there are more material comforts but also an alarming rise in mental health issues. There is a cry for help, but their pain is neither felt nor understood by others. Through the ‘Voice That Cares’ helpline, our trained counsellors offer the first line of counselling with empathy and care, and this helps avert it from escalating into something more severe. I am very happy that we are extending this service throughout Andhra Pradesh working with the AP Police Department. The AP State Police are elevating their role beyond the function of protecting those in distress, by proactively introducing support systems for people to develop emotional and mental resilience.”
Director General of Police (AP) Shri Gautam Sawang said, “Mental and emotional health are key factors of overall wellbeing in society, and AP State Police understands its significance in maintaining law and order. By collaborating with ‘Voice that Cares’, AP Police is actively addressing issues that are increasingly causing discord in people’s lives. We are happy to join hands with Heartfulness Institute and Ripples of Change Foundation to launch the Psychosocial First Aid in Telugu for the general public across Andhra Pradesh. I am sure that the interventions will help the members of society and the members of the police force could also benefit from the Heartfulness wellness programs. By proactively addressing this area of mental and emotional stress, we are hoping to create a positive impact on law and order in society.”
The event began with Shri. Nagesh Karuturi, Director, Ripples of Change Foundation (ROCF), Introducing Voice that Cares (VTC) while the VTC Project Manager gave an overview of the VTC helpline. A welcome address to the Chief Guests followed with an overview of the partnership on the helpline. Following the official launch of the Telugu helpline, the event concluded with a Q&A session with the AP Police on the tips to maintain work-life balance, the importance of meditation in balancing emotions and developing mental strength among others.