New Delhi: The government considers mental health an important public health concern, and the work on it from boosting facilities to training doctor and other experts, is being done in a “mission mode” under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Bharti Pravin Pawar said on Wednesday (July 26). Addressing a national conference on mental healthcare hosted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at Vigyan Bhawan here, she also lamented that the society still does not look at mental health in the right way.
She asserted that it is critical to remove the stigma that prevents individuals from seeking help. Adding that it affects people cutting across age, sex, social and economic status of individuals, Union Minister of State for Health said,
Mental health is an integral part of our health as it affects all aspects of our lives.
She said according to a National Mental Health Survey of India conducted through NIMHANS, Bengaluru in 2016, the prevalence of mental disorders in adults aged above 18 years is “about 10.6 per cent, which is very bad”.
Underlining that “mental health is as important as physical health”, she said the central government has taken steps to address the issue by boosting basic infrastructure and taking other measures.
Mental health is being considered an important public health concern, and work on it is being done in a mission mode. This includes increasing mental heartcare facilities, training of doctor and other experts. After we came to power in 2014, we worked on a national mental health policy, and the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 came up to provide legal rights to such people with this historic legislation.
In her address, she also mentioned that in the 22 AIIMS too, either established or upcoming, provision of mental healthcare is being done separately. It is a matter of sadness that there is still a huge difference between people who need care, and those have access to care, the minister said.
I am assured that we all can work together to boost both awareness and care for mental health and take it to higher standards which people have a right to, she added.
The NHRC is hosting a day-long national conference on ‘Moving Mental Health Beyond Institutions’ to deliberate upon the initiatives taken by the government to address the concerns of the mental healthcare systems and raise awareness to obliterate the stigma.
In the recent past, the Commission visited the mental healthcare institutions and hospitals in Gwalior, Agra and Ranchi. The findings of the conditions in these institutions prompted the Commission to depute its special rapporteurs to visit all the 47 mental healthcare institutions in various states, officials said.
Their findings resulted in a comprehensive report on the ‘Status of Implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017’ in the country and the related challenges. This report was released during the conference, a senior official said.
The Commission has also worked on a book “Mental Health – Concern for All: In Context of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017” which was also released on the occasion.
Underlining the importance of mental health, she said, “It is important to remove the stigma that prevents individuals from seeking the help that they need.” She added that under Modi’s leadership, mental health has been given a lot of importance which is demonstrated by the passing of the landmark Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
Highlighting the importance of addressing the challenges of mental health and the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, Pawar said, “the Union government is promoting the availability of and access to cost-effective treatment of common mental disorders.” Mental health has been included in the flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme of the Centre, she said, adding “since the launch of the National Tele-Mental Health service, 42 Tele-Manas cells have been established that have already recorded over 2 lakh calls”.
The Union minister underlined the need for a “new mental healthcare paradigm” that transcends the limitations of institutions and focuses on community-based support.
She urged the dignitaries to deliberate on the pressing issues of mental health challenges in India and work towards a future where mental healthcare is accessible, affordable, inclusive and compassionate.
Besides the inaugural and valedictory sessions, during the conference, the deliberations will revolve on the following four thematic areas — challenges in implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017; infrastructure and human resource of mental health establishments; rights of persons with mental illness, including reintegration, rehabilitation & empowerment; and latest trends in critical care of mental health, international perspective and the way forward, the NHRC added.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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