BMC says ‘Life is Beautiful’, wants to talk with stressed citizens

24x7 mental helpline to be launched next month.

With suicides and murders registering a steep rise in the city, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to reach out to the stressed population with 'Life is Beautiful — Hitguj'. The 24x7 mental helpline is expected to become functional next month, by which time BMC expects to finalise a toll-free number.

"Hitguj, which means dialogue, is an apt name for the helpline. A person attempting suicide needs to talk to someone. Conversation in this 'golden period' helps remove cobwebs in the mind and pull the person out of a crisis situation. A large number of suicides occur because people have no one to speak to," said Shubhangi Parkar, head of psychiatry department at KEM Hospital, who is spearheading the project.

Ten counsellers recruited for the helpline are being trained to deal with mental health issues in adults as well as children.

The centre from where the helpline will operate will be set up on the premises of Mumbai District AIDS Control Society in Wadala.

"The groundwork for the helpline is in progress and we hope to start it very soon," said Arun Bamne, executive health officer of BMC.

Rs 25 lakh has been earmarked in the 2012-14 budget for the helpline, which was expected to take off in 2011.

"An increasing number of people, especially the urban, have been suffering from mental stress and imbalances. They need to know it is ok to seek help and advice. Counselling should not be considered taboo and should be accepted as a treatment," Parkar said.

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