- Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (MANAS), a toll-free 24/7 number (14416) that was launched on October 10 on World Mental Health Day by the Union government, has received over 20,000 calls to date, reported the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB).
- While stress, sleep disorders and anxiety have been the main issues for which help is being sought, the highest number of calls have been received from Tamil Nadu (3,631).
- Based on the Karnataka government’s e-Manas service, which was launched during the first wave of COVID-19, Tele Manas under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) now has 24 States and Union Territories on board, and provides basic support and counselling along with emergency psychiatric facilities.
- While the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) was appointed as the nodal centre for the helpline, IIITB has been providing technical support for it.
- IIITB told The Hindu that a team of around 20 people, mostly from software engineering and the E-Health research centre, headed by Principal Investigator Professor T.K. Srikanth, are involved in the technical design and support of Tele Manas.
- “We have a dedicated team to support the project technologically to serve people from any part of the country. Privacy and security have been taken care of at present (with encryption of data) and will continue to remain one of the major focus areas,” Debabrata Das, Director, IIITB, said.
- The data also showed that people in the age group of 18-45 years called the helpline the most.
- Apart from the aforementioned issues, emergency cases were also dealt with by the e-counsellors through the helpline, IIITB said.
- Apart from Tamil Nadu, places such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Telangana were the top regions from where more people reached out to the helpline, according to the recorded data.
- NIMHANS is also conducting training for counsellors and plans to advertise the helpline.
- “We have not advertised about the facility aggressively yet, as we first want to develop adequate capacity across State Tele Manas cells to provide quality support to the callers.
- Once a demand is created, it becomes imperative to provide quality services. Once full-time counsellors are hired and trained, we will actively advertise Tele Manas facilities to reach out to persons across the country,” Dr. Pratima Murthy, Director, NIMHANS, said.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB