Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

On April 12, 2020, a free psychological counseling service was created for people in Tashkent requiring help during the COVID-19 lockdown. People living with disabilities or facing financial difficulties, and victims of domestic violence, are now able to receive free support through this hotline during the quarantine period.

The free psychological consultation can be received via the telegram channel “Azizam” which has more than 36.000 subscribers and through a hotline #1197 (by taping an internal number 4 - for receiving a psychological support).The counseling service has been created by the Government of Uzbekistan to provide assistance to vulnerable groups in society. Protecting the mental health of Tashkent’s citizens, including their emotional, psychological and social well-being, is particularly important in this stressful time. The services being provided include social support to the elderly, people living with disabilities and people in financial need, along with mental health counseling for anyone needing it, and assistance to women experiencing domestic violence. The purpose of this service is to ensure that the most at-risk population groups are kept healthy and safe during the quarantine period.

The newly established counseling service in Uzbekistan has received over 500 calls upon today and the main topics of their concern include child-parent relationship, the loss of hope, anger issues, the fear of getting infected and a fear of a closed space. Psychologists receive over 50 calls per day consulting women on their mental health issues which include panic attacks. Currently there are over 20 psycologists volunteering at the call center which are eager to help the nation.

The Ministry for Supporting Mahallas and Families and the Ministry of Interior are working together to assist victims of domestic violence. A task force of the Ministry of Interior will support victims who reach out to through the phone hotline, providing advice in the first instance and offering additional support if needed.

It is important to note that all calls are confidential, and that conversations will be recorded to make sure no complaints are left unheard.

In addition to social and psychological support for members of vulnerable population groups, we are also providing focused assistance to people living with disabilities. Posters with public information about COVID-19 has been adapted into braille, while sign-language interpreters are translating televised information for people with hearing impairments.

Now the psychological consultations are given with a sign-language translation once a week via UzReport TV channel, so everyone has equal opportunities to learn about the latest events from the evening news program. Consultations can be accessed via radio channels Mahalla and Oriat Dono as well.

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