M Narendran, a pharmacist, was in a shock after he was confirmed positive for COVID-19 during the last week of April. Two months later, he has become a volunteer, who provides counselling to the COVID-19 patients in Perungudi zone.
Dr S Venkataraman, who has been deputed as zonal health officer of Perungudi zone from the directorate of public health, has taken the initiative and convinced more than 100 persons recovered from the disease to help others infected by the virus facing psychological issues due to fear and societal stigma.
"The initiative has provided a positive result. After talking with the volunteers, several patients expressed courage," Venkataraman said.
Another person devastated by the virus, whose 9-year-old son was tested positive and recovered, said on the condition of anonymity, that social stigma is a bigger issue than the virus.
"When my son was tested positive, I faced problems from other residents in the apartment. Dr Venkataraman spoke to my apartment president and after that, they turned friendly. Now, I am giving counselling to infected persons," he said.
Meanwhile, the Corporation has also appointed qualified psychiatrists to provide counselling.
"About 80 per cent of the calls to the counselling centre is expressing suicidal thoughts," a doctor at the centre said.
To support the psychiatrists, the civic body has also appointed Corporation school teachers to provide counselling zone-wise. "But, several teachers are refusing to come to work as they fear travelling to the zonal offices," an official said.