RAAH: A one-stop source of data on mental health centres, professionals

The online directory by NIMHANS provides details to the public for free

Updated - October 25, 2019 09:26 am IST

Published - October 24, 2019 10:10 pm IST - Bengaluru

Mental health is a topic rarely discussed in social circles, making it difficult for persons seeking help know where to turn to. Although there are a number of care centres and mental health professionals, the information is not available in any one source.

To address this, NIMHANS has compiled a one-stop source online mental health care directory “RAAH”, which provides free information to the public on mental health care professionals and mental healthcare centres. The directory can be accessed on http://raah.nimhans.ac.in

The premier mental health institute has also come out with a NIMHANS RAAH app, a mobile application that can be downloaded on Android and iOS platforms. “It’s a huge task for NIMHANS or for that matter any institution in India to address the gap in mental healthcare given its huge population. However, this can be done provided people have the right information regarding the nearest mental healthcare centre or an available mental healthcare professional, whose services they can opt for. And thus, RAAH was born. The app will be functional from next week,” said Md. Ameer Hamza, additional professor of Psychiatric Social Work at NIMHANS.

How it works

Mental health professionals and organisations can register and update their information in the directory live for no cost. The online directory and mobile app allows people to search for information about professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, special educators and occupational therapists working with government, non-government organisations such as NGOs, clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centres.

The main features of the directory are that people can filter the information according to their search requirements. An user will get two kinds of views in the directory — map and list view — where they can get all the information about the organisation and professionals such as timings, fees details, available services, and years of experience, Dr. Hamza said.

It all began in 2012 when Dr. Hamza along with his colleague Jagadisha T., professor of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, conceptualised the idea of a directory on mental health care centres for South India. The directory covered information on mental healthcare centres, including rehabilitation centres, psychiatric hospitals, special schools, and deaddiction centres in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. This directory of 400 centres received much appreciation from users and professionals, he said.

Pointing out that there was no such authoritative data base in India, the doctor explained that lack of knowledge about mental healthcare provider delays the care for people with mental illness/intellectual disability and their families, which further increases the burden of illness, disability, associated treatment cost to the family and to community in general.

“Even the Union Health Ministry has been asking for such a directory, which will help in implementing policies and allocating funds. Availability of a directory for mental health care centres at various places, especially government organisations, will help the needy to access and get services on time,” he explained.

Apart from Dr. Hamza and Dr. Jagadisha, four others — Aarti Jagannathan, Janardhana N. and D. Muralidhar (from Department of Psychiatric Social Work), and Sindhu M.G. (Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering) were involved in formulating the directory.

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