Bangalore, May 17, 2021: With India battling the second wave of COVID-19, people of all ages are experiencing miasma, hopelessness and are unable to process the whirlpool of negative news surrounding them. Seniors in particular are feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed by the situation, and often tend to shy away from opening up about their mental health for the fear of being judged.

While the pandemic has largely focused on physical health (the importance of hygiene and sanitisation, building one’s immunity), there has not been much focus on the mental distress caused by the pandemic.

To help senior citizens address their mental health issues, Columbia Pacific Communities, India’s largest senior living community operator has partnered with Fortis Healthcare, one of India’s most reputed healthcare service providers to launch a mental wellness initiative titled #ReachOut.  The objective of the 10-day social media led initiative is to provide senior citizens with free and easy access to experts who can provide them with counselling, therapy and no-judgement, confidential conversations.

Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities, said, “Even after a year of the pandemic, mental health is a topic that is not discussed much. We believe that mental wellness is an integral part of overall wellness, a primary driver of positive ageing, and have always created space and opportunities for our residents to retain charge of their lives. In these difficult times, when seniors staying on their own are feeling lonely, isolated, overwhelmed and hopeless, this initiative in association with Fortis Healthcare, one of India’s most reputed healthcare service providers, will encourage them to open up and reach out for help.”

The objective of this initiative by Columbia Pacific Communities is to stand with India’s senior citizens during this difficult time and provide them a safe space encouraging them to ask for help.

‘Fortis Stress Helpline’ by Fortis National Mental Health Program, is a free 24×7 helpline providing support, crisis intervention and guidance by psychologists.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Fortis National Mental health Program said, “It’s important that we understand the need to make mental health a priority for everyone. Acceptance of mental health concerns is the first step in that direction and seeking help is most important to help individuals cope with difficulties. Mental health of the elderly needs special attention and we at Fortis National Mental Health Program at Fortis Healthcare welcome the initiative by Columbia Pacific Communities to bring mental health of the elderly into focus.”

To bring mental wellness to the forefront and encourage more open-hearted conversations, CPC has launched a short awareness film showcasing the kind of response seniors receive when they try to speak about their mental health.  The video highlights the importance of reaching out for help at a time like this and shares with them a helpline number which gives them access to counsellors who would give them a patient hearing and share coping mechanisms in as many as 15 different Indian languages.