Government of India had launched a Gender Neutral mental health rehabilitation helpline named KIRAN in September 2020. The Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry that had opened up a forum for people to discuss their mental health problems received maximum calls from Men (nearly 70%), as per an internal ministry report accessed by The Hindu. About 32% of those who reached out were students.
The Kiran helpline (1800-599-0019) of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the Ministry was launched on September 7 by SJE Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot. From September 16, 2020 to January 15, the helpline received 13,550 new calls, of which 70.5% were from males and 29.5% from females, the report said.
A total of 1,618 follow-up calls were fielded by the mental health professionals of the helpline, it said.
- Majority of Callers – around 75.5% – were in the age group of 15 to 40 years
- 18.1% were older, in the 41 to 60 age group
Categorising the callers, the report said,
- 65.9% had “milder nature of distress”
- 26.5% were “moderately distressed”
- 7.6% were “severely distressed”
The report said:
- 32.3% of the callers were students
- 15.2% were self-employed
- 27.1% were employed
- 23.3% were unemployed
- 1.4% were home-makers
- 0.7% did not reveal the information
While most of the callers (78.2%) sought help for themselves, others reached out for their parents, siblings, spouse and others. The report added,
Majorly the challenges faced by the callers were related to anxiety (28.5%) and depression (25.5%); while few others included pandemic-related challenges (7.8%), suicidal tendency (2.8%), substance abuse (3.4%) and others miscellaneous (32%).
The report further categorised that:
- Most of the calls were from the North zone (40.32%)
- Followed by West (27.08%)
- South (16.99%)
- East (11.28%)
- North East (4.33%)
An DEPwD official said the number of calls to the helpline had increased to 15,170 till January 31, while there had been 1,978 follow-up cases.
Speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, a clinical psychologist of the DEPwD working on the helpline said most of the calls had been from “young adults”. Students were facing anxiety and depression due to the uncertainty about their future and lack of interaction with peers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the psychologist said.
Another psychologist working at regional centre of the DEPwD fielding calls from Haryana, said students were the largest group of callers. The psychologist added that women from rural areas had reached out to the helpline with complaints of anxiety and disturbances within families.
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, the Ministry report said.
MDO Opinion: The numbers projected in the report certainly indicate that the male gender experiences far greater mental health challenges, be it in India or globally. The stress, anxiety and suicidal problems often occur due to domestic problems with family, especially spouse, and also due to professional setbacks. While the work front can be still dealt with, there is absolutely no way out for men in an abusive marriage where they have zero defense against Gender Biased Laws. The absence of any government forum such as Men’s Commission makes it worse.
GOI must focus on creating a balanced platform for Men, firstly acknowledging their problems and then not pitting it constantly against how many men suffer Vs women. Problems for all genders need to be addressed without bias and strictly not under the influence of some feminist NGOs, who often push one sided laws for women.
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