India’s Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot launched Kiran, a 24×7 toll-free mental health counselling helpline on Monday for persons with disabilities and all others mental health concerns.
The helpline aims to provide the first line of counselling in response to the increasing mental health issues among people due to the coronavirus pandemic, developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
The KIRAN helpline (1800-500-0019) will offer mental health rehab services such as counselling, first-aid, psychological support, distress management, promoting positive behaviour and mental well-being, and psychological crisis management, with a focus on persons with disabilities.
“With the ongoing Pandemic, we are witnessing a rise in mental health issues. Our observations suggest an acute shortage of mental health professionals in the country, and to overcome this problem, we are launching KIRAN, as a dedicated helpline providing rehabilitation services for patients with mental disabilities,” said Probodh Seth, joint secretary at DEPwD.
“Due to the stigma around it, mental health patients do not feel comfortable seeking help. Keeping this in mind, people’s identities calling the helpline will be kept anonymous,” said Seth.
The 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 support line. Of these, eight are national institutes, 14 are composite regional mental health centres, and three are local centres.