On December 2, 2023, a significant move towards addressing the mental health needs of the armed forces at Armed Forces Medical College in Pune was initiated. Tele-MANAS (Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States) Cell has been established at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. This cell is an extension of the Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. General Anil Chauhan, the Chief of Defense Staff, inaugurated the event alongside other dignitaries in attendance. The motive behind this initiative was to address the mental health needs of the Armed Forces.
The Government recognized the need for mental health support and the well-being of service personnel and their families. This cell will provide comprehensive health care to the Armed Forces, recognizing the unique stressors faced by the Indian military. The operational environment, cultural factors, and specific stressors that are related to regional conflicts need a tailored approach to the mental health care of the Armed forces.
Telephone counseling provided by Tele-MANAS is a platform for individuals in distress to call and access mental healthcare from a trained professional anywhere, 24 hours a day. The initiative provides accessible and convenient provision of mental healthcare in the comfort of your home.
The Government of India considered the importance of developing a revolutionary digital mental health service that would connect distressed individuals with mental health professionals on a 24/7 basis. Individuals suffering from any kind of mental distress can reach out to these cells within Tele MANAS to seek help from professionals. The cell caters to all languages.
The Union Finance Minister announced Tele MANAS in the Union Budget on 1st February 2022. The Governor of Karnataka launched the digital arm of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) at the World Mental Health Day ceremony held at NIMHANS on 10th October 2022. The Tele MANAS works as an inclusive and integrated 24 x 7 tele-mental health facility nationwide, through a toll-free number 14416.
Mental Health Accessibility Across India
Currently, under the National Tele Mental Health Programme of India, 46 functional cells are operating through 34 states and are available in 20 languages. Since its launch in October 2022, the initiative has received more than 470,000 calls. It is handling more than 2000 calls in a day.
The Tele-MANAS initiative aligns with the broader national commitment to prioritize the mental health and well-being of citizens. Extending the cell toward the Armed Forces Medical College ensures that people in the Armed Forces receive the specialized care that they need. The establishment of the Tele-MANAS cell is a crucial step towards providing accessible and targeted mental health support to those who serve the nation.