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Mental Health 10 Oct 2017

India Deals with Shortage of Staffs in Mental Healthcare Department

The Indian government knows the crisis in mental healthcare facilities, and has increased the budget for mental health awareness in the country.

By Nibedita Mohanta Senior Sub-editor

In recent years, India has witnessed, the growing number of patients, especially in the mental health sector. People do not see opening up about one’s mental health problems as taboo; rather they try to help each other.

As Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist, LH Hiranandani Hospital explains, “With over one in eight people in India suffering from mental health issues and with a marginal number of qualified doctors, the demand for psychiatrists is growing. Since physical illnesses often lead to mental disorders, qualified professionals have good scope in India.”

Dr. Vikram Patel, joint director of London’s Center for Global Mental Health and who is also a part of the panel that advises the Indian Health Ministry on mental health related issues, agrees that perceptions about mental health have changed in India.

He says, “There’s a big myth that everything psychiatrists do is so sophisticated, complicated. It scares a lot of people off. Demystifying mental health is my agenda. There’s a gradual increase in awareness that mental illness is a health problem, not a social or personal problem, but it’s very gradual.”

The Indian government knows this, and has increased the budget for mental health awareness in the country.

The government plans to create more shelters and halfway houses for those with mental illness. There is also a serious attempt to ensure that the confidentiality of those suffering from a mental illness is protected at all cost.

Psychiatry is an emerging field in India and anecdotal reports suggest that there are not more than 5,000 psychiatrists in India, which means there is just one psychiatrist for 200,000 to 300,000 people.

Accounting to the amount of people dealing with mental health problems and government’s attempts to help these people, there is a huge demand for qualified doctors, trained psychiatric social work, clinical psychology, psychological counseling, medicine (including psychiatrists) and psychiatric nurses.

Here are a few other reasons, which make this field a very demanding:

  1. Social awareness:

Many celebrities have opened up about their lives, when they had to deal with mental depression and anxiety, on camera. This has in a way helped people to speak out and seek help, instead of dealing alone.

Moreover in villages and small towns, this was earlier considered as witch craft or a taboo, people hide it and let the inside demon kill them little by little every day. But at the present time, even government is also taking initiatives in releasing movies, advertisements and short films to let people be aware of this disease and how to deal with along with teaching people to help others, who are suffering from it.

  1. Increasing suicide rates:

Suicide is the second biggest cause of death in India, among those between 15 and 29 years (after road accidents for men and childbearing for women).

Good mental health is an essential ingredient in our well being. In its mental health action plan for Europe, WHO recognised that, “Mental health and well-being are fundamental to quality of life, enabling people to experience life as meaningful and to be creative and active citizens.

Mental health is an essential component of social cohesion, productivity and peace and stability in the living environment, contributing to social capital and economic development...”

  1. Social Competitions:

There is competition in schools to come first in the class, to top the board exams, to get the best college, to get the best job, best life partner, to get the best of everything is what driving people to push their limits and before they can realize their time gets over.

This competition has become more of a parameter to judge a person’s character, caliber and stature than the satisfaction it should provide to the person.

People are scared of being the loser not everyone can fit in the first position, which is why people are drawn more into mental trauma and tension.

In the long run some people forget to live their life and simply exist till they are declared dead and their pulse stops supporting them.

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