Feeling Too Low? Pick Up The Phone

Seeking help for mental health is bogged down by stigma in India. This post tells you why you must pick up the phone and be unafraid to seek professional help.

Seeking medical help for a mental illness is looked down upon in India, so we often rely only on friends and family. This post tells you why you must pick up the phone and be unafraid to seek professional help.

Women’s Web is proud to lend support to the #PickUpThePhone campaign, by iCall helpline, which seeks to raise awareness about counselling for mental health. Reach out, and help spread the word.

“Any time you feel a little low, call me.”

This statement is so often made in passing; just like “Do come over” or “We should meet again”. I have said ‘do come over’ to people I am not sure I’d like to host. But I know the person is unlikely to invite himself or herself, and even if they did, I could always wriggle out of the situation.

This is not the case with “Anytime you feel a little low, call me”. These words carry responsibility. Your invitation is likely to register in my head. So if I do call you, are you equipped to handle the call? Do you really want to? Will you take that time out? Will you be patient? Will you be kind?

It is nothing like whipping up a meal for the self-invited guest. One wholeheartedly appreciates the good intentions and concern; those are words that keep us going on a day-to-day basis. Knowing that people care.

My appeal is to those that need to make that call. Here are a few reasons why you’d be better off calling a professionally trained person.

OTC or Prescription drug?

For most of us suffering from a mental illness, professional help is our doctor or the therapist. But there are only so many doctor visits one can make. And we are only talking about those who are under care. However, just like a viral fever, anyone can experience severe lows and loss of reasoning at some point in their lives. We do not call a friend to spell out a prescription do we?

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The 3am phone call

You will think a million times before making a distress call at 3:00 am. Sometimes, a person may have to step out of an important meeting to reply to your frantic message. Getting help is about convenience, availability, and someone’s mood to help or not while sometimes it could be as plain and simple as not being able to get through to the loved one.

Inviting gossip

Judging someone is the easiest thing to do. We all do it. The degree may vary. Some talk out loud and we call it ‘gossip’ and most will change their behaviour towards you. Even with people we least expect to be judged by, we make a tiny dent in the perception they have of us. More than everything – when we expose our vulnerable selves, we take a hit on our own self-confidence.

Death of relationships

Mental illness is the only illness where it is considered to be okay,  if not right, to break ties with the one suffering. Disassociating yourself from someone who suffers severe lows is recommended in all the “how to be happy” articles. ‘Keep your own sanity’, ‘Let go of the negative energies’ they say. I have learnt this lesson the hard way. One can rationalize it all they want by saying “if the relationship did not stand the test, it probably was not worth it”. Maybe, but maybe not.

It takes a lot to open up to a stranger across a phone line. It is easier to talk to someone you know. Sure, the stranger across the phone line may not know you, but he/she understands the situation you are in, and what you are going through. And that is what you need.

Fortunate are those who have someone by their side. Make the call with them. At crucial times, words are our medicine. So trust a professional with the prescription, pick up the phone.

Pic credit: Yagui7 (Used under a CC license)


About the Author


The power of stories to inspire change made me turn into a storyteller. I write on 2 topics that need a very clear shift in attitude – ‘Being single in India’ & ‘Stigma attached to mental read more...

25 Posts | 135,085 Views

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