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Helpline launched for Indian expats

Worries about the rising number of suicide cases among Indian workers have prompted the launch of a free counselling service in Dubai.

Worries about the rising number of suicide cases among Indian workers have prompted the launch of a free counselling service in Dubai.

The service has been launched in collaboration with the Indian Community Welfare Committee, the charity arm of the Indian Consulate, and will offer professional support to expatriates in crisis.

Dr Rachne Buxani, a clinical psychologist who co-founded the service, said the service would provide a form of crisis intervention. She said: “There are a lot of distressed people in the Indian community, and very few people for them to speak to. They can’t afford high medical fees, so their situation can rapidly deteriorate.”

The programme will be run on Mondays and Thursdays, and individuals can pre-book appointments through a mobile number. It will be manned by eight volunteers, Buxani explained, all of whom are trained clinical psychologists. Because of the small number of volunteers, she added, the clinic will not be operating a walk-in service.

“Clients can attend a maximum of three sessions,” Buxani said. “Those who need more immediate ongoing help will be referred on for further treatment.”

The service has identified professionals who are prepared to offer help at a vastly reduced rate, she added, to ensure needy clients can afford treatment.

According to Consular officials, the number of suicides by Indian nationals in 2005 rose to 84 in Dubai and the northern emirates, compared to 69 in 2004. The number of Indians in the area exceeds one million.

“Problems such as depression, family concerns and substance abuse are common,” Buxani said. “There is an immense need for help.”

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