Who: Kushal Roy
Category: Mental Health Warrior
What: Provided free mental health services to over 200 people during the COVID-19 pandemic
Why: For providing free mental health services to over 200 people during the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 is a physical illness. But it has a considerable impact on mental health, too. With close family members and friends dying, seeing disease all around, job losses, economic burden, it is safe to say that COVID-19 has taken a mental toll on people. There are guidelines on how to protect against COVID-19 or what to do if you contract the virus, however, there are probably no such guidelines on how to keep your mental health in check when you’re at home providing care to a sick family member, or have recently lost your job as your company no longer has the money to pay you because of the economic blow affected by the pandemic. There are major gaps. But during this global catastrophe, some people came forward, lending a helping hand to fill one gap at a time.
Hyderabad-based Kushal Roy, a psychologist, counselled over 200 people during the COVID pandemic. His initiative ‘Feelings Forward’, which provided free mental health support at the grass-root level, became such a global phenomenon that Kushal’s efforts were recognised by none other than former US President Bill Clinton, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
For his work in the field of mental during the tough times of the COVID pandemic, Onlymyhealth nominates Kushal Roy for our ‘Healthcare Heroes Awards 2021’. He is nominated in the ‘Mental Health Warrior’ category. This is his story:
Thought Behind ‘Feelings Forward’
It was in November 2020 that Kushal started ‘Feelings Forward’ initiative under which he provided mental health support to those in distress caused directly or indirectly by the COVID pandemic. “At that time, I saw many people dying not just because of COVID, but due to the pandemic-led stress,” Kushal said on what made him start such an initiative.
Recounting two such cases, he said, in 2020, his driver’s wife died by suicide. She thought she had the coronavirus and feared passing it on to her kids and other family members. However, she didn’t have COVID but due to lack of knowledge and the right counseling, we lost her. “I felt so miserable at that time that the family could have reached out to,” Kushal said, and also highlighted the media’s role that widespread coverage on so many people getting infected and dying of COVID does have an impact on people.
Another case was of a close friend, who, too, died of suicide. Kushal said it was another case where the person had access to me but didn’t reach out. He said, at that time, he questioned the purpose of his degree and of being a psychologist.
“So, at that time in November, I thought, I have to reach out to people as much as I could, to do something that helps everyone,” Kushal said. And, hence, he started ‘Feelings Forward’, which means forwarding your feelings to someone you trust.
Provided Mental Health Support To Over 200 People
Kushal started with reaching out to people in the nearby bastis (slums) to understand what caused them mental health distress and anxiety. He realised that many of them didn’t have a clear view of what COVID-19 was. He went to several such slums. His main aim was to reach out to people from different socio-economic backgrounds, much opposed to his previous clientele comprising of Bollywood celebs, those in the corporate world, and people from the higher class. Hence, under his ‘Feelings Forward’ initiative, he provided mental health support to over 200 people who suffered from COVID-related distress.
On what he aspires to do next, Kushal said, he wants to work among the differently-abled community, the deaf and mute, to be specific, and is learning sign language. “Their lives must have been severely affected by the pandemic,” he said. Stressing on the importance of mental health, the psychologist said, “’mental health is as important as your physical health’ is an extremely generic line but is a very important one.” On the support any one of us can provide, he said, “you don’t need to be a mental health expert to provide emotional support to someone suffering from mental distress.” Just lending your ears, spotting if a person is facing something serious, and motivating him/her to see a professional if needed, is how you can contribute to someone’s fight against mental health issues.
For his immense work in the field of mental health, we, at Onlymyhealth, give a big shoutout to Kushal Roy. And if you too wish his efforts to be recognised, then don’t miss out on this opportunity and vote for him for our Healthcare Heroes Awards 2021.