70% of calls to India’s first national mental health helpline made by men

According to a report published by Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry, 70% of callers to India’s first National mental health helpline, Kiran, have been men. 

The Kiran helpline, launched in September 2020 by SJE minister Thaawarchand Gehlot, made available in 13 Indian languages, received 15,170 calls until January 31st. Out of these, 70.5 % calls were from males and 29.5% from females. 

The 24/7 helpline offers early screening, psychological first-aid, psychological support, distress management, mental well-being, psychological crisis management services and referrals to mental health experts and is operated by 81 front-line professionals, apart from volunteer psychiatrists, clinical and rehabilitation psychologists. 

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Trends observed in an internal report by the Ministry accessed by The Hindu reports that the majority of callers were in the age group of 15-40 years while 18.1% were older, between 41-60 years. According to the report, most of the distress was related to anxiety or depression and other concerns included pandemic-related challenges, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, etc. 

Research suggests that stigma is the main factor why people, especially men do not report mental health issues and seek help. The Kiran helpline was launched with the hope to encourage people to reach out.

Research also suggests that a lot of men usually do not seek help and do not even acknowledge that they are dealing with a mental health issue because they see it as a sign of weakness.

The report also notes that 32% of the callers were students who were experiencing anxiety and depression due to uncertainty about the future and self-isolation. 

Research conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggests that one in seven Indians are affected by mental health issues. Despite such a massive crisis, we do not have enough help available. Kiran helpline is definitely a step forward in filling this gap and encouraging people to reach out. 

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