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The government is soon to launch a national tele-mental health programme and a toll-free helpline number to provide people of India with a wider access to mental health assistance in the country. The national tele-mental health programme (NTMHP) was first announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget of the year.
The Finance Minister had earlier said that the pandemic had adversely affected mental health of people across all ages. To make mental health counseling and care services more accessible to a wider population, the programme was to be launched this year.
As per reports, a network of 23 tele- mental health centres of excellence will function with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) at the centre. Reportedly, the International Institute of Information Technology (, Bengaluru, would be providing the necessary technological aid for the execution of the programme.
Reportedly, at least one tele-MANAS (Tele-Mental Health Assistance and Nationally Actionable Plan) cell would be established in each state and union territory. Also, five regional coordinating centres will be set up.
A toll-free helpline number would be set up across the country. The callers will have the choice to avail the services in their desired language. A call made by the user will be routed to tele-MANAS cells in the respective state and union territory.
As per a Lancet report, mental disorders are among the leading causes of non-fatal disease burden in India. The report shows that one in seven Indians were affected by mental illness of varying severity in 2017 and the contribution of mental disorders to the overall disease burden of the country has almost doubled since 1990. Pandemic has further turn the situation to worse. As per reports, India saw a spike of 10 per cent in the number of suicides reported in 2020 compared to records of the previous year.
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