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MoHFW and MoD Sign MoU to Launch Tele-MANAS Cell for Armed Forces

New Delhi: In a landmark move aimed at addressing the mental health needs of India’s armed forces, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a special Tele-MANAS Cell at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. This initiative, part of the National Telemental Health Helpline of MoHFW, will be piloted for two years.

The MoU was signed by Aradhna Patnaik, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of MoHFW, and Lt General Daljit Singh, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, in the presence of senior officials from both ministries. The special Tele-MANAS Cell was officially inaugurated on December 1, 2023, by Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM.

Recognizing the unique stressors faced by military personnel, the collaboration between MoHFW and MoD aims to provide specialized mental health services tailored to the needs of the armed forces. The operational environment, cultural challenges, and specific stressors related to regional conflicts highlight the necessity for a specialized approach to mental health care within the military.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt General Daljit Singh emphasized the long-standing need for dedicated mental health counseling for armed forces personnel. “With the dedicated Tele-MANAS cell, armed forces personnel and their families will receive crucial mental health assistance 24×7, addressing their mental health concerns more effectively,” he stated.

Aradhna Patnaik underscored the significance of attending to the mental health needs of the armed forces, noting their distinct requirements. She highlighted that the partnership will ensure prompt and effective mental health support for military personnel and their families.

Tele-MANAS is the digital extension of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), providing comprehensive, integrated, and inclusive 24/7 tele-mental health services. The initiative is accessible through a toll-free number, 14416, available in each State and Union Territory (UT), facilitating easy access to mental health support.

Currently, 51 operational Tele-MANAS cells are functioning across all 36 States and UTs, offering services in 20 different languages. Since its launch in October 2022, Tele-MANAS has received over 10 lakh calls and is managing more than 3,500 calls daily. These numbers highlight the significant demand for mental health services and underscore the importance of addressing mental health issues comprehensively.

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