Srinagar: There has been an alarming increase in women callers seeking mental health assistance on Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS) at Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) Srinagar.
Since its launch on November, 4, 2022, the Tele Manas at IMHANS has received 10000 calls from people in distress from every nook and corner of the Union Territory, mostly from women folk. As per the officials, women predominate the initial data and are approximately 70 percent of callers.
Dr Heena Hajini, Psychiatrist and Senior consultant at Tele-MANAS services at IMHANS told Greater Kashmir that they received approximately 300 calls from people with intention to self-harm.
“We have received 1000s of distress calls, predominantly from women either with underlying mental health problems or distress arising from immediate stressful causes like domestic violence, death in family, illnesses in family,” she said.
Dr Hajini said that women folk feel very comfortable calling from their homes because one that all of the first responders are women and they feel very safe calling anytime besides Tele-MANAS has broken the barrier of stigma and shame generally associated with seeking mental health help.
Tele-MANAS cell is a 24*7 working online tele psychiatry model, at present they have counsellors and psychiatrists available round the clock, just a phone call away, (14416).
Junior Consultant at Tele-MANAS, Dr Deeba Nazir told Greater Kashmir that they have received calls in thousands and females outnumber males. “The reason maybe it becomes easier for them to express themselves and also the stigma associated with disturbed mental health makes them more vulnerable to visit a mental health professional in person. The nature of calls is both the distress calls and underlying primary psychiatric disorders,” she said.
She said many are distress calls like exam stress, financial strains, relationship issues, interpersonal problems, marital discords and many calls we get from the patients who are already on treatment from psychiatrists like depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, personality disorders,” she said, Dr Deeba said that Tele-MANAS not only helps women, but men also. “The concept behind it is that help is available round the clock , anyone who is in distress and feels that they are stuck. At times a ray of hope just works wonders. Tele manas just wants to be that ray of hope for people,” she said.
She said that many patients have called having active suicidal ideations, and many steps are being followed by the counsellor to safe guard the person on call. “And our counsellors are well trained for this and it needs special training and expertise to talk to these patients. And most of the calls have been successful,” she said.
To bridge the gap in Mental Health and address need, the Government of India has launched the National Tele-Mental Health Program (NTMHP), which besides many other activities included setting up a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence.
IMHANS Tele Manas centre is one of the centres of excellence chosen for purpose. It provides free round the clock tele mental health services via Tele-Mental Health Assistance and Nationally Actionable Plan through States (Tele-MANAS).Tele Manas centre at IMHANS is currently the best model centres in the country along with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu according to the Data and Ranking maintained at IIT Bangalore.