The Rising Mental Health Crisis Among the Women of Jammu and Kashmir
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The Rising Mental Health Crisis Among the Women of Jammu and Kashmir


TeleManas center, which is a mental health helpline launched by the central government to help people with mental health issues, has revealed after evaluating several patients that women of Jammu and Kashmir are much more like to suffer from mental health issues than men. They have revealed that 70% of the calls received by their helpline are by women in distress.

Kashmir has always been a conflicted area and its people have constantly beard the consequences. In a land where life is already difficult, women have regularly and silently suffered for years. But the launch of TeleManas centers by the government has now made it possible for the women of Jammu and Kashmir to share their distress and ask for necessary help.

Since the establishment of the TeleManas center in Srinagar’s institute of mental health and neurosciences just 5 months ago, and despite the state having way less population than major states of India, Jammu and Kashmir is already among the top 3 states in terms of the number of mental health calls received.

According to professor Arshad Hussain of the Institute of Mental health and Neuroscience, the state tops the list in terms of calls received per thousand population. He adds that the TeleManas center of Jammu and Kashmir is also among 3 of the best centers across India with the other two being in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The performances of all 22 TeleManas centers across India are managed by IIT Bangalore based on the number of calls received and hours spent talking to the patients. Since its foundation in October 2022, all the TeleManas cenetrs across India have received nearly 60,000 calls in total.

Mental health is already a matter of concern in whole of India. Thousands of Indians suffer from all sorts of mental health problems, out of which, very few come forward to seek help. Of those suffering from mental health issues, it’s mostly the women who suffer in silence. This is either because of the social stigma related to mental health or simply because there is no help available for them.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the following three main factors make Indian women more prone to suffer from mental health problems: gender and marital disadvantages, physical and reproductive health, and socio-economic factors. After analyzing factors like the number of children, violence, age, and substance abuse, a strong correlation was found between physical and sexual abuse and the prevalence of depression and anxiety.

It has also been observed that women who face physical, sexual, and emotional abuse suffer from mental health issues when they grow up. The National Family Health Survey of 2019-2021 found that 30% of Indian women face some kind of violence in their life. This means almost a third of all women in India are always at risk of developing disorders like depression and anxiety.

Before TeleManas, it was very rare for women to talk about their distress and seek mental health assistance. Among multiple reasons for this, the inaccessibility of infrastructure for mental health care and various stigmas associated with mental health issues were the two major ones. Due to Indian women’s very limited access to privacy, the internet, safety, and mobility, it was (and still is) very tough for them to get mental health help.

TeleManas is a remarkable and historic step toward fighting the mental health crisis in India and especially Kashmir where women have been suffering for years. TeleManas works with a three-tier system in which counselors are the first respondents who then connect the patients to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists if the need arises. In most cases, the patients are taken care of without them making a visit to the hospital.

TeleManas is a significant progress in making mental health assistance to Indian women but it is surely not enough. We still have many corners of the country to reach as mental health issues are still a myth in those places.

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