India needs more awareness campaigns to counter mental health disorders

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Published: December 26, 2019 2:47:15 AM

Moreover, high treatment gap for mental disorders, poor evidence-based treatment, and gender-differentials in treatment remain.

The study finds that there are two mental health professionals and 0.3 psychiatrists for every 100,000 of the population—while the latter number, by some estimates, is 0.75, even that is abysmally short of the global average of four.

A Lancet psychiatry study finds that, as of 2017, over 197 million—or one in seven—people in India suffered from a mental health disorder, a sharp increase from the 150 million reported in the 2016 National Mental Health Survey. At 4.7% in 2017 the contribution of mental disorders to India’s disease burden, measured in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) is double the 2.5% in 1990, making mental disorders the second largest contributor (14.5%) to years lived with disability (YLDs). A majority (91 million) suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders. Even more worryingly, the study found a positive association between socio-economic indicators such as per-capita income and mean education and the prevalence of adult-onset depression and anxiety.

Precious little, however, is being done to equip the country’s healthcare infrastructure to cope with this burden. The study finds that there are two mental health professionals and 0.3 psychiatrists for every 100,000 of the population—while the latter number, by some estimates, is 0.75, even that is abysmally short of the global average of four. The revised Mental Health Act, 2017, mandated that mental disorders be covered under health insurance schemes, but only 19 states have formed a board in compliance with the regulations.

Moreover, high treatment gap for mepsychiatrists ntal disorders, poor evidence-based treatment, and gender-differentials in treatment remain. Given the impact of mental illness on the quality of life and the high economic cost of an increasing mental health burden—the World Health Organization estimates India’s losses due to mental health conditions between 2012 and 2030 at over $1 tn—there is a desperate need to spread awareness and strengthen the healthcare infrastructure.

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