Third of callers to national helpline reported anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts: Survey

12:51 PM Mar 03, 2023 | Team Udayavani |

At least one third of people who reached out to a mental health helpline for counselling in the last 18 months reported battling anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, and sought psychological support, according to a survey.


The Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala Foundation, which provides free mental health counselling, noted that in the past three months (November 2022 to January 2023), such conversations have touched nearly 40 per cent.

The foundation facilitated 114,396 conversations and over 1.7 million messages with 61,258 people from August 2021 till January 2023.

”One-third of people who reached out to us told us that they struggled with mental illness, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Suicide killed more people in India than murders and coronavirus in 2022,” said philanthropist Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala, who leads the foundation.

”Even if every medical student in the country today became a psychiatrist, we do not have enough people to solve the mental health crisis,” Priya said in a statement.


The data from the foundation suggest that 81 per cent of the people seeking counselling on issues concerning mental health come from 12 states.

These were Maharashtra (17.3 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (9.5 per cent), Karnataka (8.3 per cent), Delhi (8 per cent), Tamil Nadu (6.2 per cent), Gujarat (5.8 per cent), West Bengal (5.4 per cent), Kerala (5.3 per cent), Telangana (4 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (3.8 per cent), Rajasthan (3.6 per cent) and Haryana (3.6 per cent).

”This reflects our efforts on creating awareness of our free helpline in these regions. This data also guides us to scale our efforts and fund appropriate initiatives in low awareness states,” Priya said.

The survey also found that the preferred mode of communication changes with age and gender.

While the data shows that the use of WhatsApp increases with the younger population, the telephonic conversation is preferred by those over 35 years of age, it shows.

The survey validates that there is a need to provide crisis intervention via both WhatsApp chats and Telephonic conversations 24X7/365 days, according to the foundation.

The usage of WhatsApp is increasing with the younger generation. The last three months of data suggest that more and more young people are using WhatsApp to get help with their mental health, according to the statement.

As many as 65 per cent of people under 18 years of age, 50 per cent of people aged 18-35, 28.3 per cent of people aged 35-60, and 8 per cent of people over 60 are all using WhatsApp for this purpose versus a phone call, it said.

WhatsApp has opened communication to a different segment, which perhaps could never seek mental health support offline, the foundation said.

Women, girls, and young men, who wanted to discuss their mental health issues without the knowledge of their family or peers found a medium to seek support with this powerful digital platform that offers privacy and confidentiality, the survey found.

Almost 53 per cent of women prefer to contact the helpline using WhatsApp chat, whereas 42 per cent of men preferred to use the chat service, it found.


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