An effort to provide gays and bisexuals a platform to share their concerns has revealed the shortage of counsellors.

According to Chennai Dost, a community for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, there is an urgent need for counsellors.

The organisation had provided details on counselling on its website and within six months of starting the free service, reached out to 381 individuals.

“The service began to be offered on August 18 and by March 23, we had helped over 100 men. The service is available only for a few hours during the weekend due to lack of funds,” said Ajay Sathyan, peer counsellor, who has trained in Norway. Counselling was sought most by those in the 20-30 age group. Depression, fear and doubt about one’s sexual orientation led them to seek counselling.

Some of the predominant issues discussed during counselling sessions were loneliness, acceptance by friends and family and peer discrimination. The group also complained of stress which led them to contemplate suicide.

The urge to commit the act was found to be highest in the 20-30 age group, Mr. Ajay said. This group was addicted to alcohol and drugs and tended to harm themselves.

Vikranth Prasanna, founder of Chennai Dost, said the survey revealed the need for regular counselling services which would also help address the issues. In 2011, when the organisation conducted an awareness rally, it sought a mobile testing booth from the Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society but they were not provided one.

“We need a support system and want the government to help us. A sitting with a therapist costs Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000. A psychologist charges Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 4,000 while a psychiatrist charges Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 7,000. Most of those who sought our counselling services cannot afford these expenses. We would like the government to fund the programme,” he said.

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