Daily life is full of stressors that slowly take a toll on us. Often it can be difficult to open up to the people around us and reach out for help. This is where mental health helplines with a non-judgmental stranger on the other end can be useful.
One such initiative is TalkToHelp, an online platform where people can message or connect with a team of people willing to listen at any time of the day. The organisation has a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram where the team works to create awareness about mental health issues.
The idea came to founder Musfirah Riaz in 2013 when she began a blog online. She wanted people to have someone in their lives that didn’t know them personally and would talk to them without judgment.
“People kept reaching out to me for help and I decided to come up with a platform where they could do that. There are very few places online where people can seek help freely, so that’s why I decided to launch this organisation,” said Riaz on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Wednesday.
Sarah, a member of the counselling team, said that fear of judgement from loved ones sometimes makes it worse for people with mental issues.
“A lot of the times it’s their friends or family making things difficult. If you live in a toxic family environment, it’s very difficult to get away from your problems,” Sarah added.
The team added that people who come to them for help are so disheartened that they feel like a burden and need to be reassured it’s their right to seek help. They also make sure they maintain everyone’s privacy.
“Our counselling team has seven to eight members. People who reach out are usually allotted one member from the team. Then only that designated person can communicate with them and open their messages. No one else on the team can,” Sarah said.
When they feel a person’s issues are too severe, they refer them to a psychologist on the team, she added. TalkToHelp also holds live sessions where people can discuss their problems in real time.
“We have live sessions on Sundays,” said Tanzeem, a team member who conducts the sessions, adding that they allot a time beforehand during the week and reply to personal queries.
Tanzeem said a lot of people they get want to learn how to be happy. They have difficulty coming to terms with their own emotions and instead search for materialistic joys, she said.