Every day, we continue to see a significant number of people, unable to cope with day to day life due to mental health issues. It is very evident that their mental state does not only affect their personal lives but their professional performance.
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” (NidoQubein)
India has a population of over a billion people, and according to The World Population Review estimates, one in every six people on earth live in India. This is particularly interesting as the World Health Organization estimates that India’s economic loss due to mental health concerns between 2012-2030 will be to the tune of over a trillion dollars. These results are confirmed by alarming numbers that point to an increase in mental health concerns among employees. For example, ASSOCHAM reports that 42.5% of corporate employees suffer from some form of depression.
The Healthcare Sector in India
The 2017 IBEF report on the healthcare sector in India predicted that by 2020, Indian medical tourism is expected to grow to USD 8 billion. India seems to the place to be for healthcare, but most market research on the healthcare industry excludes mental health care from the equation. The lack of funding and dearth of services offered translates to a statistical outlier which negatively affects the predicted outcomes and shines a light on a niche sector that predominantly has a stigma attached to it.
Figures and Scope of the Market
The stakeholders in the healthcare space vary in size as well as impact. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical technology manufacturers are all a part of the same system but often work in parallel due to conflicts of interest. The state of the mental health care system is worse; the mental health care workforce is limited and often lacks the infrastructure and resources to sustain and grow. With majority medical insurance not covering basic health care costs and quality mental healthcare overheads being high, mental health care can almost be viewed as a luxury service. As a medical professional, I am aware of the gaps in the market and the requirements of the industry. The Government of India estimates one in five Indians needs either counselling or psychiatric intervention. The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 1, 33,623cases of suicide in 2015. The agencies continue to predict a steady increase in these disturbing figures. As a veteran professional, I foresee an emerging market. Mental health care has great potential for growth and development and is backed by a steady market demand.
The Coming Changes
As a developing country and an evolving society, mental health concerns are being recognized more frequently. In certain economic strata, drug use and eating disorders have become a rite of passage. The number of young adults with addiction concerns and drug induced psychosis is worrying. There is a significant lack of understanding about the repercussions of excessive/consistent drug use. There is a certain casual attitude towards experimentation, and to some extent that makes it an almost fashionable experience.
The Medical Tourism Market
The medical tourism market in India is booming because we provide high-quality services by highly skilled professionals at a comparable nominal rate. We need to replicate this same model with mental health care and provide educational incentives to encourage individuals to pursue a significantly under-staffed field. In my many years of working in the mental health space, I have witnessed growth and observed the change in government policy, the most recent one being the mental health act discussion earlier this year in 2017 defining mental disorders and affordable access to government services. However, it needs more, India needs more. For a country that continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace, the mental health care sector desperately needs to catch up.
This article has been authored by Dr Zirak Marker, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (M.B.B.S., D.P.M., D.N.B.), Mpower.