Nupur Saraswat’s collecting therapy fund to help people with mental health aid amid the pandemic
“At this point, I honestly believe that only the community can save the community” – Nupur Saraswat.
Nupur Saraswat is a poet, a writer, and a stage performer (theatrical poetry). She works as a freelance writer and does online shows on occasion. She is a proponent of women’s rights too. During the complete lockdown in her town, Bangalore, Nupur Saraswat had a severe panic attack and found therapy as the resource that maintained normalcy for her. With that, Nupur Saraswat felt having access to therapy was a privilege and decided to extend her privileges to others too.
We asked Nupur Saraswat and her team to tell us more about the therapy fund, how can one access that and what can one do to help. Here are all the things that you need to know about the therapy fund.
Who all can access the therapy fund? Are there any eligibility criteria? How can someone access it?
We have an intake form. The in-take form serves as the entry point for people to reach out and become applicants to the Therapy Fund. Our volunteers initiate the process by contacting the applicants and understanding their needs. If they have a counselor they are seeing and they trust, we pledge funds for two sessions upon receiving the invoice. If the applicant doesn’t have a care provider, which is mostly the case, we assign one from our rooster.
An important thing for us to know when closing the call with the applicants is if they are safe. We keep ourselves open to feedback, to follow up, and in some cases (especially domestic violence), to emergencies. Our applicants have our personal numbers and the freedom to contact us. Though this is taxing on the volunteers, it is agreed upon that this is the required recourse at this time.
There is no restriction in our in-take form. So absolutely anybody can fill it in. Currently, the demographic we see is not as uniformed as you would imagine. We have students who, for obvious reasons, cannot afford therapy. We have women stuck in abusive marriages and homes without an income who seek help. We even have parents reaching out to us with concerns about their children but we feel they are not really looking for funds as much as they want references from therapists, which we are happy to give. We have working professionals who have lost their jobs, live gig workers who have lost their stage, and grieving adults who have lost their loved ones.
How much amount has been raised till now and what are your targets?
We have raised a little over INR 150,000 completely through word of mouth and community funding so far. We aim to raise INR200,000 or more by June through our fundraiser on Milaap.
How many people have accessed this fund till now?
We have had more than 270 people reach out and ask for help from the Therapy Fund.
If can someone contribute to the initiative?
Monetary contributions can be made through a fundraiser on Milaap.
This is absolutely about spreading the word for us at this point. We require volunteers of all calibre. If somebody with database building skills, or organizational skills were to be able to volunteer it would help our DV prevention efforts greatly. We also need volunteers who can help us go through the applications. This is tricky as there are a lot of trigger warnings involved, including suicide ideation, domestic violence, abuse, grief, trauma, etc.
We would also appreciate people sharing this initiative widely. A very interesting thing we have witnessed is people going to therapy on their own upon seeing the Therapy Fund! We get messages from people telling us that the fund and its core message reminded them how important therapy is so they decided to seek help themselves. Additionally, we have had 5 cases where people filled in the in-take form, and when they were phoned by the volunteers, they informed us that their parents or guardians have taken care of this. What this means is that they filled the form, opened up about it to their people, and found that the funding and support were right there!
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