Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot launched a 24×7 toll-free mental health rehabilitation helpline ‘KIRAN’ (1800-500-0019) on 7 September.
• The helpline, which was developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), aims to provide:
~ First line of counselling in response to increasing mental health issues among people due to Covid-19 pandemic.
~ Offer mental health rehabilitation services such as early screening, first-aid, psychological support, distress management, promoting positive behaviour and mental well-being, and psychological crisis management.
~ Provide first stage counselling, advice and also refer patients with severe illnesses to counsellors, with a special focus on persons with disabilities.
• Stressing on the need for mental health treatment, Probodh Seth, joint secretary at DEPwD, said, “due to the stigma around it, mental health patients do not feel comfortable seeking help. Keeping this in mind the identities of people calling the helpline will be kept anonymous,” said Seth.
• Helpline will be available in 13 languages including Tamil, Hindi, English, Gujarati, Urdu, Assamese, Kannada and Malayalam.
• It will be operated by 75 mental health professionals from 25 helpline centres, who will act as the first line of support. Of these, eight are national institutes, 14 are composite regional mental health centres and three are regional centres.
• 660 clinical psychologists and 668 psychiatrists will act as the second level of support for patients who are severely ill or require drug prescriptions.
• A third level of support where regular follow-up calls will be made to patients with severe mental illnesses.
According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry in December 2019, one in seven Indians suffer from mental health problems.