Building resilience through empathetic support - Reaching 50,000 Indian families

Arushi Wasan
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June 22, 2020

Everywhere I look - print, TV, websites - I only see one word. The word is so omnipresent that I don’t even need to mention it, and yet you know what I am trying to say. The cognitive overload is so massive that I have proactively stopped looking at news, as news related to this word overwhelms, distresses and worries me.

Let’s take a step back and think -- aren’t we dealing with a mental wellness crisis today?

COVID (sorry, the word is back) has confined us to our homes and has robbed us of a life we once considered familiar and sometimes comfortable. And problems are plenty -- some people are living with family, yet some are alone; some have strong support systems and friends, yet some are isolated; some are safe wherever they are, yet unfortunately some are not. And these are only a few scenarios. People have also lost jobs and livelihoods, and are moving towards penury with various mouths to feed. Can one imagine such a family’s anguish? In a time when there is a desperate need to bring mental health to the forefront, we at Dost have tried to do our bit.

We've spoken to hundreds of worried families since March. We’ve heard about worries related to food, income, safety, children’s studies and learning, and many more. We are cognizant that we can’t resolve income related concerns, but we can surely do what we do well -- build targeted content to arm parents with essential information and tools related to a certain need. And this time, we have focused on the unspoken need of mental wellness of the family. We’ve built a 6-week phone call module where parents receive daily automated phone calls with credible information and simple strategies to manage their everyday worries and anxieties, and take better care of themselves and their children. Besides the automated calls, parents can also receive 1:1 support from a certified counselor linked to a COVID mental wellness helpline.

We want to support as many families as we can, and help them address stress and build resilience. In addition to reaching families within Dost's network, we are also joining hands with Child Rights and You (CRY), a wonderful partner who is mobilizing forces on the ground to take our mental wellbeing calls to a total of 50,000 families across 4 Hindi speaking states. This work would not have been possible without the timely support from ACT Grants, MIT Solve and Omidyar Network India. The need for mental health support is enormous and our work has just begun. We want to take our program to many more families in India, and are looking for collaborations and partnerships. If you’re interested in working with us, please do send me an email :

Let us spark thousands of conversations on mental wellness, one phone call at a time.

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