Bhutan observes World Mental Health Day
Bhutan observed the World Mental Health Day on 10th October. This year, the day was observed with the theme “Psychological first aid”. The main goal of psychological first aid is to promote safety and show connectedness.
The day is observed to create awareness and educate people on mental illness. Due to lack of awareness, people never turn out to reveal their disease. Instead, they have to be asked to visit the hospital after knowing their ill state of mind.
In Bhutan, the number of mentally ill patients has been increasing every year. The psychiatry department of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu first registered 151 mentally ill patients in the year 1999, from which highest was 51 patients found with depression and least three patients for substance abuse.
The number of patients was marked highest in the year 2012 with 864 registered cases, out of which 229 patients were registered for anxiety disorder making it the highest while only 16 registered for mood disorder (BPAD).
Alcohol dependency syndrome (ADS) case has also been increasing. The year 2012 marked the highest number of ADS case of 156 registered patients from which 130 were male and 26 women. One of the ADS patients said, “Today I came to withdraw since I am able to leave alcohol and the help provided from hospital has changed me and my habit.”
Every year, anxiety disorder has been the highest and it is shown that women suffer anxiety more than men. In 2015, 136 women were found to be suffering from anxiety disorder while only 65 men suffered from the same mental illness.
Dilli Ram Pokhrel, a senior health assistant (HA) of psychiatry OPD, said, “Women suffer anxiety more than men due to the extra burden they have to bear.” They are the victims of domestic violence and have to carry more tension for the family, he added.
Dr. Ugyen Dema, a psychiatrist, said, “Not in touch with the reality is psychosis.” Dilli Ram Pokhrel said that people being not aware of time, place and person (TPP) are confirmed as suffering from psychotic illness. If people report having more than two illnesses they are referred to psychiatric OPD. The symptoms of mental illness will start like those of any other illness and gradually increase.
According to a report, the psychiatry department registers around 40 to 50 patients daily including both old and new cases. The old case patients turn out for their follow-up treatment and medication while for the new cases, the detailed history of the patient has to be diagnosed.
Other disease can be diagnosed by machines and other checkups but mental illness can only be known by diagnosing their history and talking with the patient’s relative said, Dilli Ram Pokhrel.
Dilli Ram Pokhrel, who has worked in the psychiatry department for almost 10 year, was once a mentally ill patient himself. He was suffering from mood disorder but with continuous treatment and counseling he could recover from it and now he can treat many mentally ill patients.
Psychotic illness is like any other illness which is curable if known at the right time and given the right treatment, Dilli Ram Pokhrel said.
Psychological first aid refers to providing help to mentally disturbed people. Dr. Ugyen Dema said, “Be there to show them compassion”. Another goal of psychological first aid is to support resilience in ourselves and others. Resilience means the mental ability to recover quickly and return back to a new life.
Psychiatry department registers the cases based on nine categories, namely depression, anxiety, ADS, somata-form disorder, epilepsy, psychosis, poly substance abuse, BPAD and others. Currently there are only three psychiatrists in the psychiatry department at the hospital.