'Bridg­ing the 'Men­tally Ill' and 'Men­tally Strong' Gap in In­dia'

FICCI Business Digest - - Features -

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.

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