Poddar Foundation to headline a webinar on importance of tele-mental health services during challenging times of Covid-19

Mumbai: As the massive lockdown and social distancing have made us more vulnerable to mental health illnesses. Studies indicate that depression, stress, hopelessness and negative thinking, panic and fear have grown. To talk about the role of Tele-Mental Health the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS), New Delhi and the Poddar Foundation is all set to organise a webinar on April 17, 2020 to discuss a systematic way forward for Tele-Mental Health Services in the times coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Nimesh Desai, Director, IHBAS, Delhi and the Managing Trustee Poddar Foundation Prakriti Poddar will be moderating sessions that will address issues like the mental health needs of society, mental health services and response, tele-counseling services, tele-consultations and rescue services during this period and the needs beyond. This will be followed by a open session where all the speakers and moderators will talk about the framework, solutions and future of tele-mental health services post lockdown as well.

The webinar will have special guests like Dr B N Gangadhar, Director, NIMHANS; Dr Shalini Bharat, Director, TISS; Dr Gautam Saha, President ELECT, IPS and Prof. P K Dalal, President, IPS. The online colloquium is divided among five sessions, which will be attended by 25 panelists 4 Facilitators, and 2 moderators.

Dr Nimesh Desai, Director, IHBAS, “With the COVID epidemic, mental health concerns have gained more centre stage position than even earlier and at the same time with the lock down and with the social distancing, good mental health seems difficult and good mental service even becomes more difficult. The well documented large service gap for mental health is becoming even larger.

Tele Medicine Guidelines from the Medical Council of India and National Medical Commission are very timely n helpful to reduce the treatment gap and reach those need the service. The practice of Tele Medicine is quite different for mental health as compared to the other sectors of health care, especially for the large range of services from support and counselling to consultation to prescription onto rescue & admission when required.

Various initiatives from Govt, Private and NGO sectors for this range of MH services across the country are very appreciable, but there is a need to exchange ideas and share experiences.

Additionally, there is a need to compile is of possible, the different models of such endeavours and also enlarge and formalise these Tele services in Mental Health, the ethical and the legal aspects of such programmes also need to be carefully considered.

The Mental Health needs of the Society MIGHT actually be even more and difficult to respond to Post Covid. and there is a felt need to sustain the emphasis on MH and specifically technology based innovations for MH service delivery this may have the possibility of enhancing the limited reach of MH services.”

Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation added “This webinar is the need of the hour. Tele mental health is here, and we hope that it will stay in order to bridge the massive supply and demand gap. It gives consumer and the providers of mental health to access even the remote areas and aid the marginalized as much as the elite. Reports indicate, that there have been a rise in people experiencing distress, marginalization, problems with their employment, finances, relationships, physical health and their ability to live a productive and satisfying lives, and with the help of this webinar we will try to address the key mental health issues like what are the major gaps in the mental health needs of the society and how to bridge these gaps. We cannot thank all the resource people for associating with us in the webinar,”

This is the first webinar of a three series initiative launched specifically to address the rising concerns and create strategy to ease the post Covid struggles.