'Bridging the 'Mentally Ill' and 'Mentally Strong' Gap in India'
While 10 crore Indians need mental healthcare, there are only 3,800 psychiatrists and 43 psychiatry hospitals in India, as a result of which only 1 out of 10 Indians in need of mental healthcare receive the required care. Mental illnesses account for 1/6th of all health-related problems in the country, but India spends 0.04 per cent of its healthcare budget on mental healthcare as opposed to 4-5 per cent spent by developed countries.
A treatment gap of 82-96 per cent highlights the reality of India's Mental Health status. The gap in nature of services offered, inadequate infrastructure and dearth of specialist professionals make it very difficult to deliver care and improve mental health outcomes of the nation. Lack of research in mental health has also been a huge challenge, resulting in insufficient data to identify the roots of the problems or to devise innovative models for delivery of mental health services.
Above all, mental illness is a taboo in India and this must change now. There is a need to encourage dialogue, dispel the age-old myths, create awareness amongst masses and invest in training specialist healthcare workforce and infrastructure for mental healthcare. As healthy citizens form the bedrock of any successful nation, for India to realise its full potential, it has to be ensured that the gap between the 'mentally ill' and 'mentally strong' is bridged.