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Tele MANAS helpline sees an increase in number of calls

INDTele MANAS helpline sees an increase in number of calls


Issues such as sleep disturbances, heightened stress levels, low mood, anxiety over potential failure, and concerns regarding parental reactions are commonly reported on the helpline.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A young adult woman who was distressed by an interpersonal relationship reached out to Tele MANAS. She was also worried about the issue cropping up at a time when exams were around the corner. A team counselled her for nearly an hour.

“The caller’s needs were kept as a priority, and as she preferred speaking to a woman, the call was transferred to the on-call female psychiatrist on the Tele MANAS cell team after preliminary assessment,” said Dr. Naveen Kumar C., Professor of Psychiatry and Head of Community Psychiatry at NIMHANS talking about the nature of calls received by Tele MANAS, the toll-free government, mental health helpline.

The helpline has seen an increase in the number of calls it receives from those aged 15–30, including this patient.

According to the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB), the technological partner for the helpline, approximately 1,13,500 calls have been received from those within this age group since October 2022. While the helpline used to receive around 3,000 calls in a month from this age group a year ago, it is now receiving around 9,500 calls per month on average. “As the number of calls to the helpline increased, so did the calls from the age group,” said T.K. Srikanth, Principal Investigator from IIITB.

“The age is recorded if the caller provides that information. We do not ask them if they are students unless they volunteer that information. Individuals make some calls on behalf of the person who might need help. We have not included those calls in our counts,” Mr. Srikanth said.

Sleep disturbances

These callers’ concerns usually pertain to exam stress. Mr. Srikanth said students sometimes seek assistance with exam preparation, time management, and related concerns. He also said that issues such as sleep disturbances, heightened stress levels, low mood, fear of inadequate studying, anxiety over potential failure, and concerns regarding parental reactions are commonly reported on the helpline.

“In some distressing instances, students express thoughts of death, particularly following exam failures or fears of failing. Tele MANAS promptly provides counselling support in such critical situations, offering necessary referrals and follow-ups,” he added. He also said many students have provided positive feedback and have reached out for further assistance.

9.27 lakh calls

Since its inception, the 24/7 helpline has received 9.27 lakh calls from across the country. NIMHANS is the nodal centre for the helpline.

In April, the University Grants Commission urged all Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to widely publicise the mental health helpline. The teams behind Tele MANAS have also taken several steps to publicise the helpline among students.

Talking to The Hindu, Dr. Naveen Kumar C., Professor of Psychiatry and Head of Community Psychiatry at NIMHANS, said, “Given the prevalence of younger callers, particularly students and young professionals, it becomes imperative to address the mental health needs of this demographic. Efforts are being made to disseminate information, education, communication materials and outreach programmes in educational institutions aimed at raising awareness and promoting preventive measures.“



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