Hyderabad: After a national mental health helpline was launched on 29 March, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to launch its own helpline to address issues of mental health popping up in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
P.V Ramesh, the additional chief secretary to the Andhra Chief Minister, tweeted, “At times like this, some of us will experience anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies; alcoholics may experience ‘withdrawal symptoms’. This is part of being #Human in times of #COVID19. Please call 104/ 1902 for professional support.”

People in Andhra Pradesh may dial 104 or 1902 to seek professional mental health support.
The helpline comes as a welcome move as many cases of people with severe withdrawal symptoms has been reported across the country. For instance, in Telangana, health officials have recorded a sudden spurt in the number of patients approaching the Erragadda Mental Hospital with withdrawal symptoms. More than 100 such cases have been reported at the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda in the past few days, while 94 such cases were reported on 30 March. Those who are addicted to liquor or alcohol and are now deprived of it are the ones who show withdrawal symptoms.

The problem has been so severe that in Kerala the state government has directed medical professionals to issue a certificate for liquor supply to those with withdrawal symptoms. The Kerala government maintained that there is a need to provide a regular supply of alcohol even amidst the nation-wide lockdown. Liquor shops and bar outlets have been closed since 23 March as a preventive measure to prevent further spread of the novel Corona virus.

On 29 March, the Central government had launched a toll-free helpline number – 08046110007 – to address mental health issues that may arise during the COVID-19 lockdown. The national helpline was launched by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.

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