GOI Launches Mental Health Helpline in 13 Languages


Sep 8, 2020


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India’s Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry launched a 24/7 toll-free mental health rehabilitation helpline yesterday. This helpline, named KIRAN, is currently available in 13 languages — Hindi, English, Tamil, Marathi, Odia, Telugu, Assamese, Malayalam, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Bengali, and Urdu.

Developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), the helpline intends to offer psychological support, distress management, psychological crisis management, and referrals to counselors and psychiatrists in serious cases.

“The helpline will function as a lifeline to provide advice, counseling, and reference in 13 languages to individuals, families, NGOs, parent associations, professional associations, rehabilitation institutes, hospitals or anyone in need of support across the country,” Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, told PTI.

Greater awareness about mental health as a result of the Covid19 pandemic has led to some government initiatives to help manage the same. As of now, the Ministry of Health has a toll-free helpline for psycho-social support. Plus, the Assam State Government had also set up its own helpline to provide emotional support and counseling. However, the KIRAN helpline’s focus on regional reach, medical assistance, and rehabilitation of disability-related distress makes it more inclusive and accessible.

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Probodh Seth, joint secretary at DEPwD, stated that the KIRAN helpline was created to encourage people to ask for help. “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,” Seth told The Print.

The helpline provides three levels of support. The first line of support comprises of 75 mental health professionals who can provide basic counseling. These professionals will operate from 25 helpline centers spread across cities and regional areas. At the second level of support, people will be referred to mental health professionals for specialized therapy and medication. For this, the initiative has roped in 660 psychologists and 668 psychiatrists to assist patients. The third line of support, for severely ill patients, involves regular follow-up phone calls.

Call the toll-free KIRAN helpline at 1800-599-0019 and the Union Health Ministry Helpline at #080-46110007.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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