When Indian PM informed 1st lockdown, I was upset, could not sleep well that night.
- Involved in a social space, my thoughts were how poor people will be impacted by this and problems they would face.
- IT companies can work from home, others are not equipped to work from home.
I became crazy before hitting bed to say to my second daughter that I am going to violate the lockdown to support people who need help. She wanted me to stay home as she wanted me to be safe, created a conflict in my mind. Reached Rajesh for guidance, who said “There is nothing wrong that you are angry about the lockdown. You have valid reasons, as much your daughter. Surrender to this scenario. Once you surrender, see what action is possible and continue to act. Surrender is the key in crazy scenario”
In a state of surrender, I called Guru of Sochara and Prasanna, asked for ideas and shared about Coronathon.(Thanks Paras Chopra). Guru came back and wanted to explore creating a solution to offer mental counselling. Started an entire new journey o Sahay(named later)
Our initiative was to facilitate people to have better mental health in these uncertain times. This facilitation means, people who need mental counselling need access to mental counsellors who can counsel patients(beneficiaries) on mental health. With lockdown in place, came up with virtual IT solutions, wrote the same, along with high level principles and shared with anyone interested
- Can solutions leverage existing tools? There is little or no software development , while there can be human participation to fill gaps of integration.
- How to protect privacy of both parties, beneficiary and counsellor? I want to ensure that counsellor privacy is protected for sure.
- How do we scale if there is more demand for this service.
- Propose approach to on-board counsellors
- Propose approach to on-board beneficiary
- Propose approach to on-board volunteers to work for adoption of the solution.
Discussions with Guru and Prasanna connected me with the first counsellors and also first set of volunteers. We were lucky to have Abu (Vismaye Kalike),Michelle(Sochara) and Adi(CA from Hyd) to join as first volunteers.
As solution required mental counsellor to serve the patient(beneficiary) and we did not have beneficiary contacts, I decided to on-board of counsellors as first step. Michelle and Abu took charge to identify and on-board counsellors. Our idea was to on-board a good number of counsellors on -board, we can reach out to the government to connect with beneficiaries who require help and share in social media too.
To bring clarity and transparency for all of us, I wrote a solution document and sample documents required as part of the solution.
- Google spreadsheet to capture beneficiaries
- Good Input form to Capture beneficiary details.
- Google spreadsheet to capture counsellors and their availability
- Good Input form to Capture counsellor details.
- Google spreadsheet to record appointments made
- Free video conferencing software like zoom , Jisti , webex
- Toll free number and dashboard to log missed calls.( By Valueleaf )
Valueleaf provided us with missed call numbers and a dashboard to provide log of missed calls. (Thanks to Guru). While volunteers were aware that zoom offers personal Zoom URLs and unlimited 45 minute free calls, We discussed that Zoom was user friendly.
Hearing media reports about zoom privacy violations, We also discussed privacy concerns around zoom(Thanks to Prasanna), We explored the usage of Jitsi as an alternate tool. My observation was Jitsi was cool for developers, while it was not user friendly for the first time user. Keeping in mind future requirement to scale, I explored for future usage of Appointy and Picktime
For the launch of the initiative, We jointly arrived at the workflow as
- Counsellors provide their available schedule and their personal zoom URL
- Beneficiaries call number and give missed call
- Volunteer contact beneficiary and confirms the request and confirm schedule appointment
- On confirmed appointment, Volunteer shares counsellor personal Zoom URL to beneficiary .
- Counsellor starts a zoom call at appointment time and the beneficiary joins the same to have a session.
Abu and Michelle took charge to streamline the counsellor on-boarding, improved Google Input forms to become more better and added interesting questions with discussion with early counsellors. In addition, they took guidance to have a training zoom session to educate on-boarded counsellors on “How to handle stressed individuals in scenario like pandemic” and implemented the same.
Adi took charge to streamline the counsellor end. Adi also took care of monitoring the dashboard of Valueleaf for missed calls. For missed call, Adit reached beneficiary and scheduled the appointment
In discussion with mental counsellors and first few calls, we created additional guidelines for interaction between Counsellor and beneficiary over zoom
- Duration of one session for beneficiary will be 45 minutes
- A beneficiary can be provided with max of 3 free sessions
- A Counsellor can reconnect(post 45 min cal) for an additional 15 minutes,and it becomes 1 hour free session
- Language preference and expertise area of the counsellor was captured to ensure better schedule of appointments
- For a 45 minute call, we decided to block Counsellor time for 90 minutes, that provides Counsellors for time to breathe, relax and record notes of the session
- Recommended that Counsellors do not call beneficiary on their personal mobile number for their own safety and privacy.
While counsellors were not happy with break-up at 45 minutes, they were flexible to go ahead with the same. Once, we had counsellors and few beneficiaries coming in, we joined hands with mental counsellors to perform extend social media Outreach
- Sahay initiative started with a web page on the Sochara website. Vignesh helped to have our own web-site.http://www.sahay.life/
- Abu created posters to share on social media and also created/maintained instagram and facebook pages. Twitter URL
- Akshara facilitated creation of the first video related to mental health for COVID times. In addition, Akshara impressed counsellors to create more videos to publish in social media pages. Some counsellors are created videos in Hindi and Kannada.