Mental Health Care System in India in Tatters, Only 1 in 5 Getting Treatment

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), October 25, 2016 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Care System in India in Tatters, Only 1 in 5 Getting Treatment


Mumbai, Oct. 25 -- Only one in five Indians suffering from mental health issues gets treatment.

This accounts for just 30 million of the nearly 150 million who have mental health problems, revealed the National Mental Health Survey, by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.

The team attributes the high numbers to a fast-paced lifestyle, stress, complexities of living, breakdown of support systems and challenges of economic instability.

Also, one in 20 people suffers from depression and one in 40 has dealt with it in the past.

The survey covering 39,000 individuals also points out that common mental disorders - depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse - afflicts one in 10 Indians.

The 30-month survey conducted in 12 states and supported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare states that depression is higher among women between the age group of 40 and 49 years and among those living in urban areas.

"The mental health system assessments indicate not just a lack of public health strategy, but also several other underperforming components. A dedicated policy and the new bill are the right steps to identify the force multiplier for mental health," Dr BN Gangadharan, director and professor of psychiatry, NIMHANS, said in the report.

The survey reveals that nearly 15% of Indian adults above the age of 18 are in need of active intervention.

The middle-age working population is the most affected and urban metros are witnessing a growing burden of mental health problems.

"All this while when talking about mental health problems, we were talking about schizophrenia, psychoses, and severe mental problems. But our study has shown that severe mental problems account for less than 2%, while common mental disorders are in very high numbers and proportions," said Dr G Gururaj, principal investigator, and professor & head, department of epidemiology, NIMHANS.

Gururaj added two more issues. "One is people tend to ignore these problems, and tend to think they don't need professional attention. …

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