We Can No Longer Afford To Ignore India’s Mental Health Crisis
Suicide is one of the top 10 killers in India, a country that has three psychiatrists per 10 lakh people.
(Five out of ten leading causes of disability around the world are mental health issues. As part of a continued effort to address the issue, The Quint is focusing on raising awareness and mobilising support. This article was first published on 5 April 2017.)
Another day, another suicide. A mental health crisis is enveloping India as we speak – a crisis that is made worse by stigma, and a crippling lack of adequate mental healthcare infrastructure.
While a few steps have been taken to address this issue, the efforts are no where near enough.
The Parliament’s nod for the revamped Mental Healthcare Bill is a positive step, as is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to initiate a conversation about depression, during his monthly radio address. Despite these efforts, the ground reality paints a shocking and bleak picture. It is a harsh reminder of how the nation is still a long way off from effectively combating mental illness.
Here’s a look at India’s mental healthcare crisis in numbers.
As individuals, it is our responsibility to work towards eliminating the stigma and creating a support system for the afflicted. On the other hand, it is the government’s responsibility to increase spending in order to enhance mental healthcare.
Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at WHO, explains:
Governments tend to spend most of their scarce mental health resources on long-term care at psychiatric hospitals. Today, nearly 70 percent of the meagre mental health spending goes to mental institutions. If countries spent more at the primary care level, they would be able to reach more people, and start to address problems early enough to reduce the need for expensive hospital care.
(If you want to talk about your mental health issue to a counsellor, call the helpline number 18602662345, it’s toll-free and managed by the Vandrevala Foundation, one of India’s most reputed NGOs for psychiatric ailments.)
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