Mumbai: On World Health Mental Day (October 10), the state-run St George Hospital announced its plans to start an Outpatient Department (OPD) for those suffering from mental illnesses. A facility will start by the last week of October. There is steep rise in number of cases of mental illnesses in the city and people are seeking treatment. “In future, we also plan to have a separate ward in the hospital for treatment of mental illnesses,” said a doctor.

According to a survey by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), statistics revealed that from October 2015 to September 2017, as many as 1,74,379 patients sought treatment for mental health issues at civic-run hospitals. The study was conducted in collaboration with the department of community medicine, Sion Hospital.

Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, medical superintendent, St George Hospital, said, “Tension, stress, lifestyle issues and many other factors contribute to mental illness. We had no facility in our hospital to deal with mental illnesses. So, by October-end, we will set up an OPD.”

A three-member team would be appointed to handle the patients in the OPD. “We will be appointing a psychiatrist from Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy (JJ) Hospital, a resident doctor and a nurse. Moreover, the OPD will remain open thrice a week. Free medicine and counselling will be provided to the patients, along with the relatives,” Gaikwad said.

Meanwhile, Neerja Birla, founder and chairperson, Mpower, said, “With an increasing rate of mental health concerns among the youngsters, we cannot sweep this issue under the rug any more. Awareness and support are essentials we need to take care of. By talking about mental health with people around us, we can help destigmatise it. Educational institutions, corporates and mental health care providers need to roll out initiatives to support a ‘positive mind’ workplace.”