Health ministry & Defence ministry sign MoU to set up Tele MANAS cell for armed forces

The special Tele MANAS cell to serve as a dedicated mental health assistance helpline for all Armed Forces beneficiaries across country

New Delhi: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to facilitate collaboration between the two ministries in operating a special cell of Tele MANAS, the National Telemental Health Helpline of MoHFW, as a pilot project for a period of two years at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune.
The MoU was signed by Ms. Aradhna Patnaik, AS & MD of MoHFW, and Lt General Daljit Singh, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services.
The special Tele-MANAS Cell was inaugurated on 1st December, 2023, at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM in the presence of senior officials from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Recognizing the unique stressors faced by the Indian military, the need for tele-mental health services in the Armed Forces has become evident. The operational environment, cultural challenges, and specific stressors related to regional conflicts necessitate a specialized approach to mental health care in Armed Forces. With the signing of the MoU, the mental health and well-being of Armed Forces personnel and their families will be addressed and the Armed Forces beneficiaries will have direct access to specialized care, ensuring that their unique mental health needs are addressed promptly and effectively.
Speaking on the occasion, Lt General Daljit Singh, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, stated that there has been a long-standing need for mental health counseling for armed forces personnel, and now, 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.
Addressing the event, Ms. Aradhna Patnaik, AS & MD of MoHFW, underscored the significance of attending to the mental health concerns of the armed forces, considering their distinct mental health requirements.
Tele MANAS is the digital extension of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), offering comprehensive, integrated, and inclusive 24/7 tele-mental health services. The initiative provides toll-free number, 14416, in each State and Union Territory (UT) for easy access to mental health support.
Currently, there are 51 operational Tele MANAS cells 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. The data indicate a significant demand for mental health services and underscores the importance of addressing mental health issues comprehensively and inclusively, particularly in specialized contexts like the Armed Forces.
Dr K K Tripathy, Economic Advisor; Air Marshal Sadhna Saxena Nair, VSM, Director General Hospital Services (Armed Forces); Maj General Dharmesh, Additional Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services (Medical Research, Health and Training); Col Subhadeep Ghosh, VSM, Director Armed Forces Medical Services (Health) and senior officers from both the Ministries were present at the event.