Free Press Journal

Experts call for strengthened services for mentally ill


New Delhi: Health experts, NGOs and members of various technical organisations Friday stressed the need for strengthened mental health services in the country and called for accessible, affordable and quality services for those affected.

“Seven percent of the Indian population suffers from one or the other kind of mental illness and a staggering 90 percent of the same remain untreated. There is also a huge substantial inadequacy of efficient human manpower,” said Ved Prakash Mishra, member, Medical Council of India.

P. Satish Chandra, director, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore said: “Mental health still remains a neglected area and the problem persists worldwide”.

“One in four persons the world over suffers from one or the other kind of mental illness. In India, 1,14,800 men and 70,000 women are committing suicide annually of which 56 percent are between the age group of 15-29 years,” Satish Chandra said.

The experts were part of a session titled “Strengthening Infrastructure and Human Resources for Mental Health Care” as part of the National Conference on Mental Health and Human Rights organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“New health centres which have come up should not be ‘mental hospitals’, but should be centres of excellence, which also maintain a high level of staff motivation,” Satish Chandra added.

Echoing similar sentiments, N.N. Raju, vice principal and professor of psychiatry, Andhra Medical College and Government Hospital for Mental Health, Visakhapatnam said: “More help by trained experts is needed.”

“There is also poor awareness about symptoms of mental illness,” he added.

Raju said, “Units of psychiatry at general hospitals need to be strengthened and it is essential to identify clusters in each district.”

“A nodal officer should be identified and trained to further train people,” he added.

“Lastly,” he said, “There is also a need for a Mental Morbidity Index so that concrete figures can be achieved.”

The conference also highlighted the importance of community involvement, creating awareness among people and ways to deal with it.