State’s Comprehensive Mental Health Care Services Go Online

In a groundbreaking move towards ensuring universal access to equitable, affordable, and accessible mental health care, Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. (Col.) Dhani Ram Shandil unveiled ‘Tele MANAS,’ a comprehensive mental health care service in the state today.

The new initiative brings round-the-clock Tele call centers into action through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Specially trained counsellors are now available to receive calls from patients and their caregivers on the toll-free numbers 14416 or 1800-891-4416. Initially, the service will feature eight counsellors for online counselling, with the capacity to expand as the need arises.

Tele MANAS is part of the larger Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (MANAS) program, launched by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The primary aim is to cater to individuals residing in remote and underserved regions, ensuring that mental health care is no longer a luxury accessible only to a few.

The Tele MANAS program is structured as a two-tier system:

Tier-1: The State Tele MANAS Cell, staffed with trained counsellors, will offer online counselling services.

Tier-2: For physical consultations, patients can visit a psychiatrist at a medical college or district-level hospital, either directly or after a referral from the call center.

The Union government has provided a grant of Rs. 1.06 crore to initiate these services in the state. The Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IBHAS) in Delhi has been designated as the regional coordination center for Himachal Pradesh, responsible for capacity building. Additionally, IGMCH Shimla will serve as the mentoring institute for the program, aiding in the development of state-specific protocols and guidelines. Technical support will be extended by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and IIIT Bengaluru.

Dr. Shandil emphasized that the Tele MANAS program’s primary focus will be on adolescents in school and college, recognizing that younger generations face added stress to excel academically and in their workplaces.

With ‘Tele MANAS,’ the state takes a significant stride toward making mental health care services accessible to all, breaking down barriers and ensuring that help is just a phone call away. This initiative promises to make a positive impact on the mental well-being of the people of Himachal Pradesh, especially the youth, who bear the brunt of modern life’s pressures.