The TARSHI helpline ran successfully from 1996 to 2009 and provided information, counselling and referrals on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health related concerns to people from all walks of life.
At TARSHI we dealt with issues of sexuality, in a non-judgmental, compassionate and professional manner so that callers found it easy to talk openly about their concerns.
Before the counsellors began taking calls on the helpline, they were trained intensively. The helpline was directed by a qualified clinical psychologist and we had professionals from fields related to sexual and reproductive health on our referral panel.
We began the TARSHI telephone helpline on 14th February 1996, in New Delhi, India. We responded to over 60,000 phone calls from people between the ages of 10 and 70+ years who came from different backgrounds - some may have been highly qualified or may have dropped out of school, some young, old, single, much married, straight, gay or multiply oriented, and some with special needs because of a disability. We especially encouraged women of all ages to call.
The TARSHI Helpline provided information, counselling and referrals on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues. All calls received on the helpline were documented meticulously in order to provide a high quality of service to callers. Documenting calls was of prime importance for continuity in counselling calls and offering good quality service. Documenting calls also provides data for research and analysis on how sexuality is played out in diverse circumstances of peoples’ lives and on the reproductive health concerns of diverse populations. The information fed into and even today guides the programmes that TARSHI is engaged in. The TARSHI helpline was recognised by the UNAIDS as one of four helplines internationally in their Best Practice Collection.
Over the years TARSHI brought together individuals and organisations using the helpline methodology in their work in order to share ideas and information on a regular basis and discuss strategies to work more effectively. In 1998 - 99, TARSHI conducted a series of monthly meetings with several helplines in New Delhi for a period of six months. Regular bi-monthly meetings of Helplines were conducted regularly from 2003 to 2006 that were organised by TARSHI and hosted by different Helplines. TARSHI also hosted three National level meetings of Helpline Organisations in 2003 (while Childline India Foundation hosted one in 2004) 2005 and 2008.