The Punjab Mental Health Helpline of Government College University Lahore initiated tele-counselling services for the caregivers of Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary healthcare Professor Dr Yasmin Rashid opened the new section helpline providing people counseling to people suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological issues due to COVID-19 or subsequent lockdown.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Asghar Zaidi gave a briefing about this special section added to Helpline, under the guidance of Dr Yasmin Rashid, and highlighted the role of family caregivers for the parents of Dementia and Alzheimer. Alzheimer’s Pakistan General Secretary Dr Hussain Jafri was also present.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor Yasmin Rashid said that family caregivers of people with dementia or Alzheimer were called the invisible second patients, and sometimes they needed psychological support and counseling, and this helpline for them would play a critical role especially in times of lockdown due to COVID-19.

She said that these caregivers faced high rates of burden and psychological morbidity as well as social isolation during the lockdown and financial hardships, and these caregivers had high vulnerability to psychological issues like depression, anxiety etc.

The minister appreciated the initiative of GCU Vice Chancellor of establishing Mental Health Helpline, saying that their people were facing difficulties due to COVID-19 and this imitative was helping them deal with mental stress, negative thinking, future uncertainty, depression, etc.

She said that the coronavirus patients were recovering fast in different hospitals across Punjab, adding that people above the age of 60 were most affected by this virus.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Asghar Zaidi pledged that this special Mental Helpline for the caregivers and patients of Dementia and Alzheimer would continue after COVID-19 crisis. He said patients of Dementia and Alzheimer were sometimes unfortunately abused in their homes due to lack guidance and support to caregivers.

Dr Hussain Jafferi said people in Pakistan lacked awareness about dementia, its prevalence and support options with around one million patients suffering in the country. He added that this helpline was a great service to these patients and their family members.

Later, one-day salary cheque by the faculty and staff of Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences was presented to Professor Dr Yasmin Rashid for the Chief Minister COVID-19 Relief Fund.

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