The National Tele Mental Health Programme (Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States: Tele MANAS, the digital arm of the ‘District Mental Health Programme’) – launched by the Government of India in October 2022, to strengthen mental health service delivery in the country – has reached a significant milestone. The toll-free service has received over 2,00,000 calls from various parts of the nation since the launch, portraying a consistently progressive trend. There has been an exponential increase in the number of calls received with a mere gap of 3 months from reaching1 lakh calls (in April 2023) to 2 lakh calls.
In a tweet by Union Health Minister, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya congratulated the countrymen for this feat.
With 42 functioning Tele MANAS cells in 31 States and UT’s, the service is currently catering to 1,300+ calls per day in 20 languages. Over 1900 counsellors have been trained who are running the first line services. Most common concerns encountered are sadness of mood, sleep disturbance, stress and anxiety. Around 7000 calls have been followed up by callbacks by the counsellors where they have succeeded in completing the loop of care. Callers who required specialist care are being successfully linked to appropriate services such as DMHP and other nearby health care facilities.
A spurt of increase in calls related to exam stress was seen during the exam season. These callers were helped by the counsellors with supportive counselling and self-help strategies which helped them in coming out with flying colours. Efforts are also made to reach more students/ adolescents in various educational institutes.
Promotion of the Tele MANAS services via different media platforms such as print media, radio and social media are being carried out. Tele MANAS will continue to provide callers with basic counselling and mental health services, with linkages to existing vital services and resources including integration with e Sanjeevani in the coming days. With Tele MANAS reaching the 2-lakh calls mark in 9 months, it is on the journey to achieve its ultimate aim of building a comprehensive digital mental health network across India and reach the unreached.
Tele MANAS initiative which was announced by Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in the Union budget 2022-23 as an acknowledgement to the mental health crisis in the country, is a novel initiative to enable people to seek support for their mental health issues while maintaining anonymity of the callers, thereby reducing the stigma generally surrounding mental health issues.
The National Tele Mental Health Programme of India focusses on building the mental health workforce of the nation through capacity building initiatives whilst simultaneously ensuring that mental health services can reach free of cost to every household and every individual, targeting the most vulnerable and unreached sections of society that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. With Tele MANAS reaching the 1 lakh mark in 6 months, it turns a new leaf in achieving its ultimate aim of building a robust digital mental health network throughout India.
Toll-free helpline numbers: 14416 or 1-800-891-4416 with multi-language provision allows callers to select the language of their choice for availing the services.