The COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of problems and brought the world to a halt. It has had a dual impact on body and mind. With added responsibilities for women, work and domestic, it has led to tremendous increase in their mental distress. Apart from the distress faced by adolescent girls and women in general, geriatric women and women with disabilities are subjected to a lot of abuse. In India, depression, dementia and anxiety disorders are extremely common among the elderly women. However, though government policies are in place, there isn’t much awareness and sensitivity to their distress and pain. Additionally, women and girls with disabilities and special needs in India are subjected to unhygienic conditions, sexual and physical violence. They are often locked away in institutions against their will and treated very badly. This abuse and distress has been exacerbated due to the pandemic and lockdown.
Due to the glaring need to address this issue, She Speaks, a flagship project of the Aambra Foundation, has launched a toll-free helpline to make mental health accessible to young girls and women in distress, elderly women, and those with disabilities and special needs. The She Speaks Sashakta helpline provides bilingual services in English and Hindi and currently operates in the Delhi NCR region. Backed by a strong team of mental health professionals and legal advisors, it aims to offer these young girls and women a safe space to express themselves, provides them with empathetic counselling, and also connects them with the appropriate support services and programs that will provide them with the resources they need. “She Speaks - Every woman has a story” is an idea woven around the feminist prism of empowerment. Born out of a compelling need to give a voice to those otherwise repressed and forced behind a wall of silence, it celebrates their strengths and acts as a step towards empowering women.
Many women are financially dependent on their families and this often prevents them from seeking help and reaching out. Recognizing this, the helpline is a toll free number and the cost of it, along with offering professional support, is currently being borne by the organization. The incidence of distress was so high that it was imperative to act fast and waiting for a CSR partner or Government help was not possible. So, the foundation took the plunge with its own resources. However, the resources are limited and won’t last long unless the larger community pitches in to pillar the cause. To ensure this helpline reaches all women in need and continues providing the professional resources required to better the state of women, we need to come together as a society. Women are always considered epitomes of sacrifice and it is our duty, as a community, to repay them by being sensitive to their issues and contributing to their upliftment. No one individual, agency, NGO, government or otherwise, can solve this problem alone. So, we request and welcome you to join us in helping us increase our resources to touch numerous lives and expand our services, outside Delhi as well.At Aambra, we believe no contribution is small and every contribution is a step to better someone’s lives.