Saisha Partiman, a psychologist from Amsterdam, set up a register for anyone dealing with mental, emotional or social distress or problems due to the Covid-19 virus and following policies and restrictions. Through her Bel-me-wel-register, which roughly translates to “Please-do-call-me-register”, she offers the possibility of a phone call with a mental health care professional. Someone who’s there to listen to you and support you, to get you through this situation a little easier.
When it became clear to me that Corona was becoming a pandemic and the Netherlands would have to take serious measurements to limit the spreading of the virus, just like other countries had done, my mind turned to the impact this could have on people’s mental health.
Not just for those becoming ill, or the medical professionals who were going to have to work incredibly hard and in dire circumstances to help these people. There are so many ways people are psychologically challenged during the Coronavirus crisis. Living in (relative) isolation, being limited in the options you have for entertainment, sports, going out, the fear of becoming sick, dying or losing someone you love, the ambiguity and uncertainty inherent to the situation, (partially) losing your income, homeschooling your kids, being with your partner, housemate, family 24/7, having to quarantine yourself…
The list could go on, and all of these things can bring about serious risks for developing psychological problems.
Illustration credit: Saisha Partiman
As a psychologist but also a fellow human being, dealing with the situation myself the best I could, I felt the need to take action and put my skills and knowledge, which have proven useful for myself and my clients, to use. I figured that one way I could maybe make it a little easier for people to cope with the situation, would be by lending an ear and offering support.
'As a psychologist but also a fellow human being, I felt the need to take action and put my skills and knowledge, which have proven useful for myself and my clients, to use'
Creating a sense of togetherness, of not having to do it all alone. To help people understand that their reactions to this situation are, though difficult, normal and valid as well. That we are allowed to have a hard time, but also to ask for help. To prevent these normal and valid reactions from becoming more serious and persistent psychological problems.
Out of this idea, I set up the ‘Bel-me-wel-register’. It roughly translates to the ‘Please-do-call-me-register’. It’s a helpline which people can make use of by leaving me an email on the website, and I reply to set up a phone call. Not to serve as therapy, but as a way of preventing the need for it later on, by providing a professional listening ear and offer support and advice.
'My initiative doesn't serve as therapy, but as a way of preventing the need for it later on, by providing a professional listening ear and offer support and advice'
And exactly what I was hoping for is happening: people are sharing their worries, their fears, or whatever challenge they are facing with me. The simple fact of sharing this and having someone listen to them and think over possible ideas or solutions on how to cope, helps them hold on and stay strong. I hope that by sharing this, more people will be able to find their way to the support they need – and deserve – to get through this.
Even though the website of Saisha's initiative is written in Dutch, she and her colleagues have told us that people speaking English or any other language can register as well. Find more information in English here.
This story was shared by Saisha Partiman, a psychologist from Amsterdam. Saisha is the initiator of the 'Bel-me-wel-register', a register which has been set up for anyone dealing with mental, emotional or social distress or problems due to the Covid-19 virus and following policies and restrictions.
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