Centre launches KIRAN for mental health issues

People across the country seeking mental health rehabilitation services can avail of the facility from Thursday through ‘KIRAN’, a free helpline being started by the Central government.

The helpline 1800-599-0019, developed by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, along with its partners aims at providing support for early screening, first-aid, psychological support, distress management, mental wellbeing, preventing deviant behaviour and psychological crisis management.

Besides offering mental health rehabilitation services, the helpline aims to resolve stress, anxiety, depression, panic attack, adjustment disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, pandemic-induced psychological issues and mental health emergencies.

The helpline will offer support in 13 languages for any individual, family, NGOs, DPOs, parent associations, professional associations, rehabilitation institutes, hospitals or anyone in need of support across the country, including Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, eight north-eastern states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot will launch ‘KIRAN’ on Thursday through virtual mode. During the virtual inaugural of the helpline, its poster, brochure and resource book will be released.

The helpline will be supported by 660 volunteers, clinical and rehabilitation psychologists and 668 volunteer psychiatrists along with 75 experts at 25 helpline centres which will have a capacity of handling 300 clients per hour.

There is a three-level mechanism of support, the caller will first be connected to the location-based helpline centre and then as per need referred to rehabilitation, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.

Follow-up and support will be extended at the third-level. For training of mental health centres three training programmes have been conducted.

The helpline will be coordinated by the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD, Chennai) and the National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR, Sehore). Collaboration for the helpline has been received from the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP), Indian Psychiatrists Association (IPA) and Indian Psychiatric Social Workers Association (IPSWA).

The idea was conceived by Shakuntala D. Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), based on the prevalence of mental health issues in India and the need to create an access to emergency relief and support for the vulnerable population experiencing psychological issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prabodh Seth, Joint Secretary, DEPwD) mentored the helpline project and coordinated with all national institutes and composite regional centres across the country for the effective execution of the helpline.