The National Tele Mental Health Programme (Tele MANAS), a digital arm of the ‘District Mental Health Programme,’ launched by the Government of India in October 2022, has achieved a significant milestone in strengthening mental health service delivery across the country. Since its inception, the toll-free service has received an overwhelming response, crossing over 2 lakh calls from various parts of the nation. This reflects a consistently progressive trend, with the number of calls doubling from 1 lakh (in April 2023) to 2 lakh calls in a mere gap of three months.
The service currently operates 42 functioning Tele MANAS cells in 31 States and Union Territories, providing assistance in 20 languages and attending to more than 1,300 calls per day. Over 1,900 trained counselors run the first-line services, addressing the most common concerns encountered, such as sadness of mood, sleep disturbance, stress, and anxiety.
Notably, the helpline witnessed a surge in calls related to exam stress during the exam season. The counselors played a pivotal role in supporting the callers through counseling and self-help strategies, enabling them to perform exceptionally well. Efforts are also being made to reach more students and adolescents in educational institutes, extending mental health support to the youth.
The promotion of Tele MANAS services through various media platforms, including print media, radio, and social media, has contributed to its increasing reach. In the future, Tele MANAS will provide callers with basic counseling and mental health services, linking them to existing crucial services and resources, including integration with eSanjeevani.
By enabling people to seek support for their mental health issues while maintaining anonymity, Tele MANAS aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
The National Tele Mental Health Programme of India emphasizes building the mental health workforce and ensuring that mental health services are accessible to every household and individual free of cost. The program particularly focuses on reaching vulnerable and unreached sections of society that may otherwise remain unnoticed.
The toll-free helpline numbers, 14416 or 1-800-891-4416, with multi-language provision, offer callers the freedom to seek support in their preferred language. With Tele MANAS achieving the 2-lakh calls milestone in just nine months, it sets a new benchmark in building a robust digital mental health network across India, marking a significant step forward in the country’s commitment to mental well-being and support.