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The pandemic that outbroke in 2019 brought in a lot of changes all over the world, especially in terms of a transition from offline to online. There were a lot of activities that we at ICHARS were doing and invested in building things offline. In the initial phase of the covid-19 outbreak, we had to discontinue the activities and NGO initiatives due to a lack of clarity on how we wanted to proceed further.

Pandemic Covid-19

However, one good thing that the pandemic has done is made us think and come up with ways that we wouldn’t have thought earlier and so a lot of activities like support groups, charitable clinics were ported from offline to online which made us reach out to lot more people than what we were reaching out to earlier in an offline setup. So there have been pros and cons were some activities have stopped and some have started but all in all, I think the transition for us has been smooth.

Before things went online, as an NGO we would have Charitable Clinics, Support Groups, and Meetings for different categories of people and we would also have live series where a speaker would talk on a particular topic and there would be an interactive audience to learn more about the topic. This was done for psychoeducation people and all these activities were happening offline earlier.

As this transition was taking place, we noticed that our audience who were coming to us for charitable clinics or support groups weren’t sure whether they want to seek help online or they want to learn certain things via an online setup. But over a period of time, since the lockdown was extended for so long, people got adapted to the changes and got comfortable with the idea of consulting a practitioner online for one-to-one sessions and also for talk-it-out groups which we started during this transition is fairly doing well now.

The one key challenge amidst this transition that we face even today is the internet connectivity, especially in one-to-one sessions and the client that we are working with has a poor internet connection. The second challenge that we faced was the feeling we had earlier that we would not be able to replicate the effectiveness with which we were working offline in an online setup.

With time, we realized the effectiveness has been maintained and in fact, it has been better as it is easier for us to send homework to our clients and the documentation has been better. Talking about the online setup, earlier the circle was limited but with activities going online, our reach and target audience got bigger and but to reach out to them was difficult as were not equipped with online marketing.

Currently, we are self-funded and that’s been another challenge to be able to transit from offline to online. All the investment that had to be made was made internally by people that are associated with our organization. However, we have coped up quite well with that too.

Talking about how we have coped with the covid and the transition phase, since we are in the field of mental health, each of us has our own support systems and practitioners who help us, guide us and support us. During the times when I have felt overwhelmed,  I have consulted my practitioner and had a session with them and the same is true for everyone else on our team.

The suggestion I have for our reader is that if you are an organization working in the area of mental health and if you feel because of the pandemic and things closing down, surely give it a try online sessions. The overall advantage outweighs the minor hiccups you would face here and there while taking things online for your clients.

If you are a client and if you feel confused as to if the online setup would offer you the same kind of results that offline sessions do, there are many practitioners that offer a free first session. I would suggest you take those free sessions and then decide if the online setup works for you or not rather than deciding without going for a session.

If you are an NGO, I would suggest rather than only investing in physical setup and physical premises when you want to offer services to people, look at the investments for technological advances because there are a lot of possibilities available where quality mental health services can be offered in an online setup.

There will be people and places where the internet connectivity wouldn’t be available or be as strong so in those areas, you can focus on a physical setup. With this you will notice that your costs will go down because for an NGO, the most important thing is a physical setup but with the transition from offline to online, the costs will be taken care of.

So these are the key things I would suggest to people who are associated with Mental Health if you are a Client, a Practitioner, an Organization, or an NGO.