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Tele-MANAS helpline receives more than 10,000 calls since its launch

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Cell instrumental in addressing stress, drug addiction, anxiety related issues

SRINAGAR: In a significant achievement towards providing quality mental healthcare for all, the UT level Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele -MANAS) cell, established at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) Srinagar, has received more than 10,000 calls since its inception in Jammu and Kashmir.

The first-of-its-kind mental health helpline, launched on November 4, 2022, is a three-tier system that has mental health counselors, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists available for patients’ calls.

Doctors at IMHANS informed that since its launch, they have received 10,000 calls including related to stress, drug addiction, suicidal tendencies and anxiety.

Secretary, Health and Medical Education (H&ME), Bhupinder Kumar, while elaborating on the significance of Tele –MANAS cell in the UT, said that telemedicine is a broader concept and tele consultation is part of it. “People can call on toll-free number and seek advice on mental health issues. Since its launch, the number of calls have increased and the quality of calls also. People who took first consultation are calling for follow-ups also with psychologists and psychiatrists,” he said.

Secretary added that Tele MANAS would also be linked to e-Sehaj portal where doctor can prescribe the medicine. “We want people to use this facility and tele MANAS is the way forward. It is more important for remote and far-off places where there is a shortage of doctors and specialists,” he added.

Mission Director, NHM J&K, Ayushi Sudan, said there is a lot of stigma attached to mental health issues adding that with Tele-MANAS, people are coming forward with these issues. “The individual calls reach to one or two hours and it is 24/7. A lot of mental health issues occur during night time. We have been able to cover a lot of people. It is accessible and free. We want to expand it in future at the district level as well,” she said.

Ayushi Sudan said the NHM J&K is also planning to expand mental health coverage across the districts to cover mental health issues, however, the approach may be different from Tele- MANAS. “We will be having district mental health plans. Tele MANAS is beginning in our initiative. We are also planning to integrate the suicide helpline,” she said.

As an extension to service delivery framework of the existing Tele MANAS Helpline we have developed Tele MANAS Chat bot, first of its kind in the entire country. It will enable the users to chat directly about their basic mental health problems for solution and subsequently patients can be referred to tele manas cell.

Dr Qazi Haroon, State Program Manager Mental Health J&K, said Tele MANAS is being linked to District Mental health program across all the districts of JK UT. A comprehensive communication strategy/IEC formulated has actually helped us to reach so extensively to common people in such short period of time, he added. He said that in near future more and more people suffering with mental health will find refuge in Tele MANAS.

Pertinently, J&K stands at rank 2 in whole country as far as daily calls received by Tele MANAS Cells are concerned.

The toll-free number of Tele MANAS Cell J&K is 14416/1-800-891-4416 and for Tele MANAS Chat Bot is 9797600601. The cell is open for the general public for providing mental health services and drug de-addiction service 24×7.

KV News

Kashmir Vision cover all daily updates for the newspaper

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