Tele mental health is the use of telecommunications or technology to provide mental health services. It is sometimes referred to as telepsychiatry or telepsychology.
A new milestone in the field of mental health, Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS), an initiative of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare was launched on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. This initiation has been initiated in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to address the growing mental health crisis and challenges amplified by the pandemic.
The program includes a network of 23 tele-mental health centers of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bengaluru and National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) will be providing the technical support.
The Centre aims to open at least one Tele-MANAS Cell in each State/UT.
A toll-free, 24/7 helpline number (14416) has been set up across the country allowing callers to select the language of choice for availing services. Service is also accessible at 1-800-91-4416. The calls would be routed to Tele-MANAS cells in the respective state and union territory.
“Tele-MANAS will be organized in a two-tier system; Tier 1 comprises state Tele-MANAS cells which include trained counselors and mental health specialists. Tier 2 will comprise specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation and/or e-Sanjeevani for audio-visual consultation,” says NIMHANs Bengaluru.
It also says “The initial rollout providing basic support and counseling through a centralized Interactive Voice Response system (IVRS) is being customized for use across all States and UTs. This will not only help in providing immediate mental healthcare services but also facilitate a continuum of care. Specialized care is being envisioned through the program by linking Tele-MANAS with other services like National teleconsultation service, e-Sanjeevani, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, mental health professionals, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres, and emergency psychiatric facilities. Eventually, this will include the entire spectrum of mental wellness and illness, and integrate all systems that provide mental health care.”
Advantages of Tele mental health service
- Convenience – It will get convenient for the patients as it doesn’t require traveling and is more flexible.
- Broader reach – Now people in remote areas also can easily access the service.
- Fewer Barriers – It will be a great help to those who have been hesitant to look for mental health care in the past. It is much more seamless than traditional mental health services.
- Advances in technology