World Mental Health Day : Addressing Mental Health in India
New Delhi : Experts across the globe agree that mental well-being is not merely an absence of disorder but a state of positive well-being. According to National Mental Health Survey (2016), 1 in 20 people suffer from depression in India. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems together are called Common Mental Disorders (CMD). CMDs are affected by a wide range of socio-cultural, economic and political factors. Yet when it comes to addressing CMDs, it is often seen in the limited view of “clinical” diagnosis.
According to National Mental Health Survey (2016), 10% of the Indian population suffers from common mental disorders.
The patriarchal structure of Indian society implies that the risk of these diseases are even higher for women. Depression is more common amongst women and is very closely linked to the experiences that they face from the inequities in the patriarchal social structure.
According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, the country needs 11,500 psychiatrists while India only has 3,500 psychiatrists. India’s entire mental health workforce, comprising clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers and psychiatric nurses, stands at 7,000, while the actual requirement is 54,750. These numbers are alarming, especially, for a developing nation like India.
According to Gracy Andrew, Country Director, CorStone India Foundation, “The universal promotion of positive mental health can be done using a strength based or a positive resilience based approach to promote awareness about mental wellbeing in the general population. Let people become aware that as communities, they can support each other in times of distress. The recognition and management of depression and anxiety should be integrated within the government welfare schemes for health. For e.g. PHC’s already have family planning counsellors, if they are made aware of recognizing depression and providing counselling, along with regular counselling provided by them, would go a long way. If mental health is perceived in such a holistic manner it will be easier to spread awareness about the topic and provide services. This would eradicate the stigma attached to mental health.”
It is very well known that health spending within the country itself is low. Within health, unless carefully allocated and regularly monitored, funding for mental health tends to get eclipsed, or mental health services are often forgotten. Given the rising incidence of CMDs in the country, it is crucial to ensure that public health programmes view mental health as matter of over-all well- being and not just absence of diseases.