Punjab Governor and UET Lahore Chancellor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar on Tuesday inaugurated the Punjab Mental Health Helpline that would provide online counselling to people suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues across Pakistan due to coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lock-down.

The Helpline (0304-1110063) is established by the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of its Psychology Department. Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi briefed the governor about the working of the Helpline at a graceful ceremony in the GCU’s Syndicate Committee Room.

Speaking on the occasion, the governor said that GCU had set up Punjab’s first telecounselling center which was a milestone addition to their already existed 30 other telemedicine centers. He said that he had established first telemedicine helpline on March 19, 2020, and to-date more than 80,000 people had benefitted from these telemedicine helplines.

He said merit appointments were the key to progress; he had appointed all vice chancellors on merit and now in these crucial times, universities with their competent vice chancellors were playing an effective role in fighting coronavirus outbreak.  

He appreciated that GCU had been at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus; it established a quarantine center for 364 people and 200 bed hospital at its Kala Shah Kaku Campus besides providing 25,000 liters disinfectant and 500 liters hand sanitizes to hospitals across Punjab.

Vice Chancellor Prof Asghar Zaidi said that coronavirus affects not just the physical health but also mental health; doctors and paramedics are playing a most significant part and now expert clinical psychologists start offering their services to counter mental health issues.

He said that the Mental Health Helpline would be a great service by GCU to their nation in helping them deal with mental stress, negative thinking, future uncertainty, depression, etc.

The Vice Chancellor said that their qualified clinical psychologists are providing counselling services to relieve the effects of stress and anxiety, management of isolation anxiety, building resilience, coping with activity restriction, dealing with Hypochondria and Cyber-chondria and supportive psychotherapy for dealing with illness anxiety and fear.

Earlier, psychologists while receiving calls advised people in such times of uncertainty, avoid speculations about the pandemic on social media, keep yourself busy with activities, write e-letters to your family and friends, engage yourself with books, watch movies — and above all try to help others which, he believed, was the best way to counter hopelessness, anxiety, depression or fear. The governor expressed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor and staff for their most timely contribution.

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