Concern for the mental health of Indians

New Delhi: About 10.6 per cent of the adult population in the country suffers from mental health issues, requiring holistic concept of safety nets, legal framework and medical care facilities, a senior official said on Wednesday. Speaking at the NHRC National Level Review Meeting on Mental Health here, Sanjeeva Kumar, Special Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said only 19 states have implemented the Mental Healthcare Act so far.

As per a Home Ministry release, Kumar said, “10.6 per cent adult population in the country suffers from mental health issues, which is a huge number requiring holistic concept of safety nets, legal frameworks and medical care facilities”.

He lauded the NHRC for its efforts in bringing different stakeholders to discuss the subject and improve the situation through a collaborative approach. In his inaugural remarks, NHRC Chairperson Justice HL Dattu said the efforts have been made to improve the mental health care in the country but a huge gap still remains between the requirements and availability of facilities.

He said that there is a requirement of 13500 psychiatrists but only 3827 were available and against the requirement of 20250 clinical psychologists, only 898 were available. There is an acute shortage of paramedical staff also, he said.

The NHRC Chairperson also raised the issue of prisoners having mental health problems and said that the protection of the rights of such prisoners is an obligation of state governments under Section 103 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.He said it has also been emphasised by the Supreme Court in one of its recent judgements.

Preeti Sudan, Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary, said that the Centre has been very proactively engaged in the task of improving the mental healthcare system in the country. She said that availability of funds was not an impediment and states have to come forward with their proposals and submit timely reports on their expenditure.

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