Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defence Collaborate to Launch Specialized Tele-Mental Health Cell for Armed Forces

In a step towards enhancing mental health support for armed forces personnel, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a dedicated Tele-MANAS Cell at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. This initiative aims to provide specialized tele-mental health services to armed forces personnel and their families.

The MoU was signed by Aradhna Patnaik, Additional Secretary & Managing Director of MoHFW, and Lt General Daljit Singh, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services. The inauguration of the Tele-MANAS Cell was graced by General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Defence Staff, alongside senior officials from both ministries.

Recognizing the unique stressors faced by military personnel, such as operational environments and cultural challenges, this collaboration is designed to address the distinct mental health needs of the armed forces. The dedicated Tele-MANAS Cell will operate as a pilot project for two years, providing 24/7 mental health support and counseling.

Lt General Daljit Singh emphasized the long-standing need for mental health services in the armed forces, stating that this initiative will offer crucial support to personnel and their families, ensuring their mental health concerns are addressed promptly and effectively. Ms. Aradhna Patnaik highlighted the importance of this initiative in meeting the specialized mental health requirements of the armed forces.

Tele-MANAS, the National Telemental Health Helpline of MoHFW, is an extension of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP). It provides comprehensive and inclusive tele-mental health services through a toll-free number, 14416, available in each State and Union Territory. Since its launch in October 2022, Tele-MANAS has handled over 10 lakh calls, reflecting the significant demand for mental health services across the country.

The event was attended by several high-ranking officials, including Dr. K.K. Tripathy, Economic Advisor; Air Marshal Sadhna Saxena Nair, Director General Hospital Services (Armed Forces); Maj General Dharmesh, Additional Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services (Medical Research, Health and Training); and Col Subhadeep Ghosh, Director Armed Forces Medical Services (Health).

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