Saying that you are a mental patient or are suffering from similar mental conditions is a black mark on the family’s reputation and honor.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said that India is facing a possible ‘mental health epidemic’, and stressed on the need to take up access to treatment facilities by 2022 as a national mission while also addressing the shortage of mental health professionals.
He was speaking at the 22nd convocation of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) here. Pointing out that there are just about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists in the country, he said that these numbers are very small, especially for the purpose of diagnosis of mental illnesses.
“For those getting their degrees at the convocation, the real challenge has just begun. They are going into a world where their skills are acutely needed more than ever before. The country does not just have a mental health challenge but is also facing a possible mental health epidemic,” Kovind said.
The technological, economic and demographic changes in the country are transforming the nature of diseases, he said.
He added that by 2022 when India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence, the country must ensure that at least those suffering from serious mental health disorders have been diagnosed and have access to treatment facilities.
“Let us take this as a national mission. The government and the non-government sector and everybody else needs to contribute to this effort and Nimhans should prepare a roadmap for the same,” he said.
Quoting a survey released by Nimhans earlier this year, Kovind said the findings were alarming as the mental health problem is also affecting the young, who are in the prime stage of their life.
“It says that 10% of Indians have one or more mental health problem in a nation of 1.3 billion people. It is a staggering figure. If you put it in context, the number of Indians suffering from mental health problem is larger than the population of Japan,” he said.
Arguing that mental health issues need to be spoken about more openly, he said India must treat ailments such as depression and stress as diseases that can be cured, and not as guilty secrets.