Hapless condition of mental health services impacting lives

Avdhesh Mallick :

Fast changing Chhattisgarh is creating new paradigms of developmental but unfortunately it has also witnessed 60% jump in mental cases from 2007 to 2016.  As per Chhattisgarh Psychiatric Society and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare records, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with mental ailment in 2007. In 2016, the number of mental patients reached up to 2.8 million. Out of which 5.73 lakhs people were found suffering from severe mental disorder and required immediate treatment. This soaring numbers of mental patients reflects an alarming situation prevailing in state.

The increased number of cases of depression, distress, mental trauma, disorders requires a good number of mental hospitals and specialists. Unfortunately, Chhattisgarh is running huge short of it.

The state which is fourth in highest number of suicidal cases has only one mental hospital in Bilaspur’s Sendri. It reflects pathetic condition of mental health services available in Chhattisgarh. Under district mental health programme, only four psychiatrists are available across state. Altogether the number of mental doctors treating patients is 38.

The state nodal officer of National Mental Health Programme Sumi Jain admits there is shortage of infrastructure as well as manpower. Hurdles in the treatment are not only due to shortage of infrastructure or resources; lack of awareness and social stigma is aggravating the condition.

She further highlights there are innumerable reasons which push an individual to opt for self-destructive behavior and it doesn’t happen in a single day. There is a chronology. Only detrimental factor is complete hopelessness. This can be averted by timely diagnosis, proper counseling and treatment.

Though she claims that they are trying their best to increase the number of working force as well as their capacity by providing training, opening of counseling programmes, facilitate mental treatment in every hospital, the situation is still pathetic.

As per World Health Organization norms there should be 1 psychiatrist for every 10,000 patients. However, here are only 38 psychiatrists available to treat volume of 2.8 million people in the state. Lack of proper Mental Health facilities families are compelled to admit their sick ones in private hospitals, which may charge Rs.1 lakh for a week of treatment.

The private mental hospitals available in Chhattisgarh like Dhanwantri Mental Hospital Raipur, Pragya Hospital Raipur and Central Institute of Mental Science charge Rs2, 000- 1, 500 rupees per day.

A state where more than 40% of population lives under Below Poverty Line, up to what extent they can afford mental health services by themselves itself is a million dollar question?

(Writer is a senior journalist based in Raipur Chhattisgarh and views expressed here are his own)

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