Mental Health issues in India

Mental Health issues in India

News: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has raised concern over the Deplorable Condition of many Mental Healthcare Institutions (MHIs) in India, violating Mental Healthcare Act (MHA), 2017.

 NHRC states that several MHIs in India are ‘illegally’ keeping patients long after their recovery which violates Article 21 of Indian constitution and several international conventions that India is part of.
 The latest survey by India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) found that nearly 150 million Indians are in need of mental healthcare services, but fewer than 30 million are seeking care.

What is Mental Health?
 According to WHO, “Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in “.

What is Mental Healthcare Act, 2017? What rights are available under it?
 The Act makes several provisions to improve the state of mental health in India.
 The Act seeks to ensure rights of the person with mental illness to receive care and to live a life with dignity. It provides the Right to Access to Healthcare.
 It provides right to free of cost healthcare services, right to live in community.
 The Act decriminalized suicide stating that whoever attempts suicide will be presumed to be under severe stress, and shall not be punished for it.

What are consequences of poor Mental health?
 Poor mental health can lead to poor physical health, harmful behavior.
 Depression has been linked to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular diseases.
 It impacts person’s ability to concentrate and thereby harming productivity levels.
 It can lead to strained relationship with family, friends and close ones.

What are the causes for poor status of Mental Health in India?
 Perception around mental health – In India, mental health issue is not perceived as a health issue. There is stigma and discrimination associated with Mental health issues.
 Fewer mental healthcare professionals in India
 Income inequalities – Mental issues are closely linked with poverty. People living in poverty are at greater risk of experiencing mental health conditions.
 Access to treatment – Only 20-30% of people with mental illness receive adequate treatment.
 Increased access to Social media – Youth of the nation is more vulnerable to mental health issues owing to increased use of social media. It minimizes social interactions between people and it erodes confidence and self-esteem amongst people due to comparison on social media.
 Lower Budget allocation specifically for Mental Health.

What are Government initiatives to prevent Mental Health issues?
Government initiatives
The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
Rights of Persons with Disability, 2017 (Mental health as Disability)
Manodarpan Initiative
Kiran Helpline
National Mental Health Program

Way Forward
 Address Stigma surrounding the Issue
 Mental Health should be integral part of Public Health Programme
 Improve access to Mental health services, number of healthcare professionals.
 Train and empower ASHA workers on mental health issues so that Women and poor people in Rural areas at least can be taken care of.
 Increase spending on Mental healthcare and infrastructure
 Mental Health needs more attention especially since the impact it has had on minds and lifestyle of people since COVID-19 pandemic. 

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