Ceena Naeem

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar-based driver, Farooq, was confronting psychological issues after contracting coronavirus.

Naeem not only received advice on the helpline introduced by the government for coronavirus patients, but also got financial assistance for which he is thankful to the government. Farooq says the fear of death affected his mental health when he contracted coronavirus.

“I was extremely perturbed as people said corona is a life-threatening disease. When I talked to a government doctor, he advised me to keep myself busy and not to think too much about the disease. I did accordingly and saw immediate results,” Farooq said while talking to TNN.

Coronavirus killed tens of thousands of people in the world and infected millions others. Keeping in view the precarious situation, the KP government right from the beginning established a helpline to create awareness among the people and save them from stress. The free of cost helpline has so far shared advice with more than 300,000 people. Most of the people calling on the helpline were confronted by psychological problems.

The staff of the KP government is providing advice to people about corona in every district headquarters through a toll-free number. The toll-free service for mental health advice was first time established by the KP government after the heinous terrorist attack on the Army Public School Peshawar in 2014. Now this service has been extended to all the districts of KP.

Director Public Health Dr Ikramullah says the provincial level toll-free number is 1700 and advice related to corona is shared on extension-3. He said many people have been provided advice on mental health on the helpline so far, including 500 cases which had reached serious level.

Dr Neelum of Health Department told TNN that the helpline proved a great success as a large number of people call on it and trust its advice.

“Most of the callers have two main fears – one is that the patient fears causing spread of disease to other members of family from him/her, and the other is that they fear economic difficulties and end up coping with stress along with corona,” she said.

A non-governmental organisation, Da Hawa Loor, has also hired expert psychologists to provide counselling to patients on telephone. The primary target of the NGO was to provide counselling to weaker segments, i.e. transgender persons and women.

Dr Farhat from Da Hawa Loor says her organisation even reached out to patients who just sent a text message or even a missed call. She said she personally provided counselling to over 50 people, including women and transgender persons.

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