What is the status of Mental Health in India? Details on it's importance and Government schemes

Mental Health is a lesser discussed topic in the Indian Society. Know its implications, importance and what steps has the government taken in this regard here
Mental Health Issue
Mental Health Issue

Why in News?

Recently a question was put up to the Central Government in the Parliament regarding mental health to which the Centre informed that it maintains no data regarding mental health or clinical psychologists working in India. 

Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare had informed this in Rajya Sabha. He responded to the question asking about the number of clinical health professionals working in the field of mental health by saying, " the data for the number of clinical psychologists in the country is not maintained centrally."

Another question was asked in the Parliament regarding this issue. It inquired if the COVID 19 had worsened the mental health crisis in India? To this the Government replied that it had not conducted any study to assess the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the mental health of the population. 

The Government also stated that it took many steps to provide mental health/ psychological support to the citizens. 

Status of Mental Health patients in India:

Mental health is a non talked about topic in India. In many places it is considered a taboo to talk about it. Patients with depressed state of mind are seen with lower respect in public and society. 

What does WHO say?

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 (before the pandemic stuck):

  1. 7.5% of the Indian population suffered from mental disorders. 
  2. Mental instability and illness constituted one sixth of the health disorders in India.This means that more than 13 crore patients in India.
  3. This number was nearly 15% of the global mental health and substance abuse disorder patients. 
  4. India had less than 4000 mental health professionals.

Mental Health: Why is it an issue

  1. Neglected sector: Mental Health can be considered as a neglected area in the Indian society as well as many other parts of the world. Not many doctors or health care professionals are available in this area.
  2. Social Stigma: Depressed patients on admitting their depression levels are looked down upon and treated as lost minds or mentally sick. There are chances for them to be cut off from the society which is why they never come out to accept their medical condition. 
  3. Mind Impacts Body: The mind does impact one's body. Mental health also affects the rest of your body parts. 
  4. Treatment Gap: As per WHO in India the number of patients of mental health has crossed 13 crore with only less than 4000 doctors to manage them. The gap is thus very wide. 
  5. COVID 19 Impact: The COVID 19 pandemic has left India and the world torn. This is why mental health has to be taken into account. 
  6. Abusive life of mental patients: Mental health is not discussed as such patients are prone to physical and social abuse in any part of the society. 

Schemes launched by the Government for Mental Health

  1. National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982
  2. National Mental Health Act in 1987
  3. District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) in 1996
  4. Rights of Persons with disabilities Act in 2016
  5. Mental Health Care Act in 2017- This act made a way for the establishment of the Central Health Authority and State Mental Health Authority as well. 

Mental Health is a serious issue that needs to be taken into cognizance by the Government of India. The pandemic brought with it uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. This is unacceptable of the Government to say that the details of the mental health workers is not available to them. Regular surveys must be conducted, talking about mental health must be promoted. 

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