As we are moving towards a technical world, people are stressed with their work life and family life. Most of the people are suffering from a mental health issue which requires an immediate cure. The awareness is increasing among people regarding mental health issues. For the betterment of mental health, the government initiated a program and introduced a helpline to provide free and round-the-clock mental health services.
The helpline is reported to have received over 1.5 lakh calls since it started its operation eight months ago. Among the 1.5 lakh people, most of these people belong to the age group of 18 to 45. Overall, two-thirds of the callers are male.
According to the report, the helpline Tele-MANAS (Tele-MANAS Helpline) was started by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the occasion of World Mental Health Day October 10, 2022. The ministry said that it was part of the government’s efforts to address the ‘mental health crisis’ in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 1,600 trained counselors who can provide assistance in over 20 languages, there are currently 42 tele-psychiatry cells in the country. These can be accessed through toll-free numbers (14416 or 1800-89-14416).
Dr. Swati Raveendran, assistant professor of psychiatry at NIMHANS, which acts as the nodal center for the helpline network, said their priority is to save lives and reduce the stress of the people at this time. Swathi Raveendran was one of the first women to join the Tele-Manas team. She further added that at the time of emergency calls, their counselors are on call with the patients till they reach the hospital.
Analysis of call data shows that most of the calls were made by people in the age group of 18 to 45 years. About 6.22 percent of the total calls were emergency cases where counsellors ensured that adequate assistance was provided, while 90 percent were routine. Sadness, sleep disturbance, stress, anxiety, and relationship or family conflict were among the most common complaints.
Dr Raveendran further said they categorize calls on the basis of complaints with which people reach out to them, not diagnosis. The diagnosis was not the motive, there have been a lot of misconceptions when it comes to mental health, and people consider it a stigma to talk about it. Significantly, two-thirds of the calls to the helpline were from men. She said this could be because more men have access to phones and can take advantage of the privacy they can get out of their homes.
She also emphasizes on the confidentiality of the call they receive on the emergency helpline number. Their primary responsibility has been to keep the interaction between the counselor and patient private.
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