World Mental Health Day: Tele mental health programme, helpline launched

PTI, Oct 10, 2022, 8:39 PM IST

Image Courtesy: Twitter/Dr Mansukh Mandaviya

Bengaluru/New Delhi: A national tele mental health programme and a toll-free helpline number were launched on Monday on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.

The initiatives of the Union Health Ministry were virtually launched by Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru.

Acknowledging the mental health crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an urgent need to establish a digital mental health network that will withstand the challenges amplified by the pandemic, the central government announced the National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP) in the Union Budget 2022-23.  The Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS) aims to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, particularly catering to people in remote or under-served areas, the health ministry said.

The programme includes a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and the International Institute of Information Technology-Bengaluru (IIITB) providing technology support, it said.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bengaluru and National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC) will provide the technical support.

The Union government aims to open at least one Tele-MANAS cell in each state and Union territory.

Tele-MANAS will be organised in a two-tier system. Tier 1 comprises state Tele-MANAS cells which include trained counsellors and mental health specialists.

While Tier 2 will comprise specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation or e-Sanjeevani for audio-visual consultation, ministry officials said.

The initial roll-out providing basic support and counselling through centralized Interactive Voice Response system (IVRS) is being customized for use across all states and UTs, they said.

This will not only help in providing immediate mental healthcare services but also facilitate a continuum of care, Gehlot said at the launch.

Specialised care is being envisioned through the programme by linking Tele-MANAS with other services like National teleconsultation service, e-Sanjeevani, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, mental health professionals, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres and emergency psychiatric facilities.

Eventually, this will include the entire spectrum of mental wellness and illness, and integrate all systems that provide mental health care, the ministry stated.

NIMHANS has conducted training for 900 Tele MANAS counsellors from a majority of states and UTs.

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