Tackling mental health issues

Mental health is defined as the state of well being in which an individual recognises his/her potential and can cope with the normal stress of life to work productively and fruitfully and make contribution to the community.

A study by the India State level disease burden initiative found that around 197 million Indians were suffering form mental disorders. The cases include developmental intellectual disability affecting most Indians followed by depressive and anxiety disorders. The prevalence is highest in case of Tamil Nadu followed by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Issues related to mental health

1. Economic loss : Due to non-treatment or a delay in treatment there is loss of human capital which in turns hampers the workforce. Due to unavailability of affordable healthcare, it increases the burden of expenditure.

2. Post-treatment : There is a Lack of proper rehabilitation after the treatment of the individual.

3. Social stigma : Mental illness brings alongs social stigma and abandonment of the sick person. It leads to reluctance of the family members to seek treatment which further worsens the present illness of the person.

4. Vulnerable to abuse: Mentally ill patients may suffer from physical and sexual abuse, being confined in isolation resulting in violation of human rights.

Steps taken by the Government

Government launched the National Health Mental Programme in 1982 to improve status of mental health in India.
The District Mental Health Programme was launched in 1996 to provide community mental health services.
The Mental Health Act, 1987 was launched to consolidate and amend the law related to treatment of mentally ill people and make provisions with matters related to them.
The Mental Heath care Act, 2017 repealed the 1987 act and aimed to ensure that the ill person has a right to live with dignity and not being harassed or discriminated in any way. The act bought in provisions of advance directive on how the patient wanted to be treated. It also made an attempt to suicide not be treated as an offence.

Way Ahead

There is a need to remove stigma from the society and increase awareness among the people related to issues of mental health. With presence of cognitive barriers it will remain difficult to tackle this problem.


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