Youth Helpline Volunteer receives award from his company - Download

MAVA’s Yuva Maitri Helpline for youths across Mumbai

helplineMAVA, since its inception, has been exploring various media to reach out to young men and by translating it’s innovative ideas into effective programs, it has always pioneered these efforts in India. MAVA started, in September 2009, Yuva Maitri Telephonic Helpline (No. 022-26826062) for distressed youths across Mumbai on problems, anxieties and dilemmas faced on matters of Relationships, Sexuality and Violence.

The helpline (Number 022 - 26826062), named as  ‘Yuva Maitri’ Helpline was inaugurated bynoted actress Sonali Kulkarnisonali kulkarni at a function held inSeptember 2009. The helpline answers phone-calls between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all days (including holidays) from teenagers, young men and women on anxieties, dilemmas and confusions faced on matters of Relationships, Violence and Sexuality. The helpline, run from MAVA’s Counseling Centre in the suburbs and co-ordinated by a trained social work professional, aims at reaching out to many distressed youths across Mumbai and provide them psycho-social support in an atmosphere of confidentiality and anonymity. Phone-calls at the helpline are answered by a dedicated team of voluntary, trained Communicators, who also meticulously document the calls.

As on date, over 2000 phone-calls by the youths have been answered at the helpline. Wherever necessary, referrals and face-to-face counseling is also arranged by the helpline. Trained counselors provide personalized counseling at the Centre. Through analysis of calls received till date, it has been found that there have been phone-calls from 14 to 35 years age youths, pertaining to following: Sex and Sexual Health, Relationships, Mental Stress and Depression and Career Guidance.

The helpline is currently being manned bynature of cell around 8 -10 young volunteers mostly within the age-group of 21 – 30 years and hailing from diverse professions. Selected volunteers are periodically being trained by MAVA’s team and experts like psychiatrists on answering phone-calls and documenting them with a sense of professionalism. None of the caller’s personal details (name, address etc.) except for his/her age (only if required) is asked. The aim of the helpline is not to solve the callers’ problems but to help the caller prioritize, deal with them and make life-situations more manageable. Besides providing factual information on sexuality matters, the helpline would also intend to make the person realize that making the most out of life is completely in his/her hands, thereby helping him/her to gain control over his life. The primary focus of the helpline is to cater to queries, anxieties, dilemmas and problems arising out of man-woman relationships and sexuality e.g. Rejection in love, Myths and Misconceptions on issues like Masturbation, Menstruation and HIV/AIDS, Dealing with emotions like Anger, Stress and Loneliness, Coping with failures at workplace or in studies, Dealing with addictions like smoking, alcohol, sexual abuse through internet-surfing and mobile phones.

Outcomes of the Helpline
The helpline, since it’s launch, has been getting a very encouraging response. Over 400 calls from young men and women (15 - 35 years’ age-group) across Mumbai (and a few outside Mumbai) have been answered till February 2010. outcomesOut of the total calls handled, a huge chunk of calls - 65% were for General Information- Seeking : Information about the helpline, about other helping organizations,  organizations working with women, HIV testing centers,  avenues where callers could seek legal help or about specific experts like Gynecologists, Career Counselors, Urologists, Sexologists etc.  Another major lot -- 28% was pertaining to queries about Sexuality in particular. The questions asked range from Masturbation Myths (both male & female), Pre-mature Ejaculation, Penis - size anxiety, dilemmas about sexual orientation (Am I heterosexual / homosexual / bisexual), Pre-Marital Guidance, side-effects of Emergency Contraception etc. The many confusions and dilemmas expressed by callers on sexuality matters repeatedly underline the pressing need for the provision of sexuality education in schools and colleges. (In MAVA’s initiatives with young men in Mumbai and 3 other districts of Maharashtra, many adolescents have shared that blue films were the primary source of information on sexuality)   The rest of the calls were 2% each regarding Marriage-apprehension, Emotional-Venting, Job-Stress and doubts about Pregnancy respectively. The remaining 2% calls were on dealing with Individual Loneliness, pressures of being a man performing as bread-winner. While 81% of the calls were made from mobile phones, 19 % calls were made from landline phones. The call durations range right from 2 minutes to a whopping 1 hour 14 minutes.

31% of the calls were made by callers in the age group of 20-24 years, whereas 27% calls were made by callers ageing 25-29 years. While calls from callers in the age group 15-19 years make up for 20% of the total calls received, 22% calls are from people who are 30 years of age or above.