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NIMHANS with Mpower paces to strengthen TeleMANAS services across India

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, March 4, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In order to further bolster the reach of TeleMANAS pan-India, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has identified Mpower, a mental health initiative of the Aditya Birla Education Trust, to intensify its reach and efficiency by providing adequate support to the implementation of this service across India.

NIMHANS is the nodal agency for the Union government’s TeleMANAS to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, particularly catering to people in remote or under-served areas.

As part of the collaboration, Mpower will be responsible for setting up, operating, and managing all day-to-day affairs of Tele MANAS centres that are going to be initiated by Mpower.

NIMHANS will provide Mpower with access to the platform, operating guidelines, training and mentoring, monitoring and framework needed to operate the centres.

In early 2022, it was the Union government which identified NIMHANS and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B) to spur research and counseling. Then the Karnataka government too had partnered with the NIMHANS and Niti Aayog to screen and treat mental health patients.

WHO estimates that the burden of mental health problems in India is 2443 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) per 100 00 population; the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100 000 population is 21.1.

The Deloitte study of 2022 also found that 80% of India's workforce reported mental health issues during the past year. Despite these alarming numbers, the report said social stigmas around mental health issues prevented 39% of the affected respondents from taking steps to manage their symptoms.

To this end, the national tele-mental health programme encompasses a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence (CoEs), with Nimhans as the nodal centre and IIIT-B chipping in the advanced technology support. The move comes after NIMHANS had recognized over 6 lakh tele-mental health consultations during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The state’s e-Manas referred to as the Mental Healthcare Management System is being used across these 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, said Dr Prathima Murthy, director, NIMHANS.

As a nodal centre, we will be working with all the 23 CoEs. These are 23 departments of psychiatry which the Union government has recognised as CoEs. They will be the resource pool to train counsellors, for each state to operate the 24/7 helplines, she added.

More than 650 doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors and psychiatric nurses working in government hospitals across the country of which 25 are from NIMHANS are extended their support on the helpline.

Noting the criticality of mental health related problems that emerged during Covid-19 pandemic period among people, Union government announced the launch of a National Tele-Mental health programme with NIMHANS, being its nodal centre as the pandemic had accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages.

Moreover those living with mental health disorders do not just face the psychological consequences of their conditions, but are also at greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease, stroke as well as respiratory diseases.


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