The Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS) initiative, which is based on Karnataka’s initiative of the same name, was launched on Monday during the 26th Convocation of National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) by Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare and Chemicals & Fertilizers.
The 24/7 mental health facility was launched on World Mental Health Day to provide universal access to equitable, affordable and quality mental health care through tele-services under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP).
First in Karnataka
E-Manas, the tele-counselling programme, was launched by the State government during the first wave of COVID-19 in association with NIMHANS to help people through the stress of the pandemic and lockdown. Eventually, the State also introduced an online counselling helpline for students during the announcement of class 10 results. Health Minister K. Sudhakar said that 23 lakh people has taken tele-counselling so far making it the one-stop centre for mental health in the State.
For the Union government’s initiative, NIMHANS Bengaluru has been identified as the nodal centre while the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru (IITB) will provide technological support. With a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, those who dial the helpline can have their choice of language to avail services. Accordingly, the calls would be rerouted to the tele-facilities in the respective States and Union Territories.
“The Tele-MANAS cells will provide basic support and counselling, as well as linkages with mental health professionals, eSanjeevini, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres and emergency psychiatric facilities. Eventually, this will become a programme focused on the entire spectrum of mental wellness and illness and integrate all systems that provide mental health care,” said a press release from NIMHANS, Bengaluru. It also said that NIMHANS had conducted training for 900 tele MANAS counsellors from many States and Union Territories for the initiative.
Speaking during the launch, Dr. Sudhakar said that Karnataka’s commitment to mental healthcare was not just limited to the pandemic. “We are establishing permanent systems to ensure good mental health care for all. One such initiative has been the tele-mentoring programmes. Along with NIMHANS, our PHC doctors will be trained to treat people for mental health and other brain related illnesses.” He also said that a day in the week will be dedicated for the task at Primary and Secondary Health Centers across the State. The Minister also highlighted the district-level mental health programmes and other mental health initiatives of the State.