In a major report released on 17th June 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that one in every eight individuals worldwide suffers from a mental disorder, urging for immediate action to change mental healthcare.
Beginning with autism and cognitive impairment in childhood, depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and psychosis in maturity, and ending with dementia in old life. In sum, mental health illnesses constitute for 15% of the global disease burden. As per a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), India has one of the world’s largest populations of people with mental issues in one shape or another.
Preceding the pandemic, about a billion people lived with a mental illness in 2019 globally, including 14% of the world’s teenagers, a proportion that has increased in the last two years by the Covid-19 pandemic. The incidence of already common illnesses like emotional stress, anxiety and depression increased by more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic alone.
This isn’t an overstatement to say that India is witnessing an emergency. Well beyond frightening figures, it is crucial to acknowledge that there is indeed a gap in how mental health is addressed in our society. Individuals dealing with mental health disorders do not obtain effective treatment due to a lack of understanding about the issue, the taboo affiliated with it, a lack of qualified experts, insufficient financing, and a low priority given in the national budget.
The issue of mental health would have been handled long ago if simply enacting legislation had aided individuals. Medicine, as well as psycho-social support, can make a substantial difference. In India, more than 80% of people do not seek professional psychiatric assistance. You’ll hear personal accounts of shame, misery, prejudice, and embarrassment from people you know who have experienced these things.
According to the WHO research, “countries spend less than 2% of their health care budgets on mental health on average”. As a result, only a small percentage of those who require mental health treatment have access to effective, affordable and high-quality care. The report calls for decision-makers and activists in the mental health field to increase their commitment and action in order to change people’s attitudes, orientation, behaviour and approaches to mental health, its indicators and care.
Nearly 14% of India’s apopulation required active therapeutic interventions, states the National Mental Health Survey conducted by NIMHANS in 2016. As per the data, about 70% to 80% of persons in India struggling with mental illness receive no care. According to the survey, only one out of every ten people in India suffering mental health issues get evidence-based treatment.
The WHO says, about 20% of Indians would suffer from mental diseases by the end of this year. According to the World Health Organization, 5.6 crore Indians suffer from depression and 3.8 crore from anxiety disorders. The World Health Organization forecasts that India will lose $1.03 trillion in economic value owing to mental health issues between 2012 and 2030 (at 2010 dollar rate).
A research published in the Lancet in October 2021 found a 35% increase in mental health disorders in India. According to the ‘Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017,’ 19.73 crore Indians, or one in every seven, suffer from a variety mental problems. Psychiatric disorders attributed to a two-fold increase in diseases in India, with the total disease burden rising from 2.5 percent in 1990 to 4.7 percent in 2017.
According to a study conducted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in 2021, “there is a critical lack of mental health specialists, particularly clinical psychologists, who are the initial point of contact for persons seeking care for mental health issues”. The number of qualified mental health specialists such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and psychiatric nurses is far less than what is required.
The Indian Psychiatric Society estimates that there are 9000 psychiatrists in India, with 700 psychiatrists graduating every year.
This translates to 0.75 psychiatrists for every 100,000 inhabitants in India. This is much less than the minimum of three psychiatrists per 100,000 people that is advised. India consequently need 27,000 psychiatrists, based on the current population of the nation.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told the Lok Sabha in 2018 that the nation has only 898 clinical psychologists compared to a demand of 20,250, and only 1,500 psychiatric nurses compared to a demand of 30,000.
If we estimate that India requires three mental health experts (three in each category) for every 100,000 people, we would need an additional 30,000 psychiatrists, 37,000 psychiatric nurses, 38,000 psychiatric social workers, and 38,000 clinical psychologists.
According to estimations based on the number of mental health professionals currently being educated in numerous institutions in the nation, it’ll still take 42 years to satisfy the requirements for mental health professionals, 74 years for mental health nurses, 76 years for psychiatric social workers and similar years for clinical psychologists, presuming the sample size (if population in general and mental health human resources) remains static.
Due to a lack of awareness, misinformation, and plain indifference, individuals who are experiencing any type of mental health issue are erroneously labelled as “maniacs” by the general public. This perpetuates the cycle of alienation, misery, and humiliation for the sufferer. Empowering those dealing with diverse mental health conditions is necessary to eradicate stigma.
It is also possible to link those affected by these conditions with one another by establishing a network so that nobody feels isolated or lonely. Additionally, such individuals will indeed muster the strength and desire to fight in unity. People with mental health issues ought to have access to reliable and competent health care as someone with physical disorders, in order to permanently end the stigma.
To help dispel misconceptions and negative stereotypes accompanying the disorder, it should be covered by life insurance.
Efforts should be made to educate and upskill the neighbourhoods and society to provide clients with prompt mental health support and assistance. Nothing except for prompt intervention, cognizance and education of the issue, professional assistance, and suitable policies would therefore help reduce the number.
Therefore, it is crucial to comprehend that individuals with mental disease have a right to spend their life in dignity and self-assurance.