The serious issue of mental health problems in India

The serious issue of mental health problems in India

Written By: Kunj Published In: Healthy Living Created Date: 2016-12-01 Hits: 126

A large number of Indians – nearly 60 million – suffer from mental disorders in the country. At the same time, India severely lacks the sufficient mental health professionals while the budget allocated to mental health care is also very less compared even to other developing countries like Bangladesh.

Nearly 10-2 million Indians suffer from severe mental disorders like Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, while 50 million are plagued by common disorders like depression and anxiety. This is the information given to the Lok Sabha by the health and family welfare minister JP Nadda in 2016. He was quoting data from the National Commission on Macroeconomics and health report of 2005 which is the last report available.

Although suicides due to mental disorders have decreased from 7% in 2010 to 5.4% in 2014, still more than 7000 people committed suicide due to mental illness. In spite of these statistics, there is little improvement in the healthcare facilities available to mental health patients.

The government of India commissioned a national mental health survey through NIMHANS in Bengaluru. This survey was aimed at estimating the number of mental patients and the utilization patterns of health care services. Under this survey, starting June 1, 2015, 27000 respondents were interviewed and the findings were alarming.

India does not have sufficient health professionals to address mental health issues and this shortage is more evident at the district and sub-district level. In the country, there are 3800 psychiatrists, 898 clinical psychologists, 850 psychiatric social workers and 1500 psychiatric nurses. This was information given by the ministry of health and family welfare in the Lok Sabha in 2015.

This means that in the December of the year 2015, there were three psychiatrists per million people according to the data from WHO. However, the commonwealth norm is that of 5.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people. This means that India needs 66,200 more psychiatrists. At the same time, the global average of psychiatric nurses is 21.7 nurses per 100,000 people and according to this average, the country requires 269,750 more nurses.

A mental health care bill was passed in 2013, which was meant for the protection and promotion of rights of mental patients during the delivery of mental health care in institutions and in the community. This bill was passed unanimously by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha on August 8, 2016.

According to this new bill, the funding to centers of mental health will be increased from Rs. 30 crores to Rs. 33.70 crore per center. At the same time, 15 centers of mental health and 35 post graduate training departments in mental health specialties are provided funding to eliminate the shortage of mental health professionals in the country.