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Community-Based Mental Health Care Shows Better Outcomes: World Health Organization

Community-based settings provide individuals opportunities to regain a sense of independence and engage in social activities, which significantly improves their overall well-being

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The treatment gap for mental health conditions remains as high as 95 per cent

New Delhi: Community-based mental health care shows better outcomes and countries in the South-East Asia region should prioritise transition from long-stay institutional mental health services to community-based care to ensure these services are accessible and stigma-free, the World Health Organisation (who) said on Tuesday (March 12). Transitioning from long-stay tertiary psychiatric institutions to community-based care is beneficial for both individuals and the society at large, Saima Wazed, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said in a virtual address to the regional meeting on ‘Transitioning from long-stay services to community mental health networks: towards deinstitutionalisation in WHO South-East Asia Region’.

She said,

When these services are integrated into the fabric of communities, it becomes easier for individuals to seek help without the fear of judgment or discrimination. This shift also allows for greater personal autonomy, improved quality of life, and personalised care options.

Ms Wazed said,

Community-based settings provide individuals opportunities to regain a sense of independence and engage in social and vocational activities, which can significantly improve their overall well-being.

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An estimated 13.7 per cent of the population in the region suffers from mental health conditions. Ms Wazed said,

The treatment gap for mental health conditions remains as high as 95 per cent. More than 2,00000 people die of suicide every year. People with severe mental disorders die 10 to 20 years earlier than others. However, investment in mental health remains very low across the region.

The regional director also released a report on ‘Deinstitutionalisation of people with mental health conditions in WHO South-East Asia Region’, which while acknowledging the complexities and unique contexts of each country, offers recommendations that can be adapted to local realities.

Ms Wazed, who champions the cause of mental health and has set it as one of her top priorities as regional director said,

This report can serve as a catalyst for change, igniting a process that results in every person leading a life of dignity, purpose, and fulfilment.

Long-stay mental health institutions, including psychiatric hospitals and asylums, are often characterised by the absence of effective treatment, segregation, poor living conditions, lack of resources, and overcrowding.

The transition from institutional care to community-based care is driven by a growing understanding of the negative impact of long-term institutionalisation, advances in treatments, and recognition of human rights and dignity of individuals with mental disorders.

Ms Wazed said,

Historically mental health care has been synonymous with institutionalisation. Large asylums were built with the intention of providing a place of refuge for those grappling with mental illnesses. However, as our understanding of mental health has evolved, so too must our methods of care.

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Earlier, the Paro Declaration on universal access to people-centred mental health care and services, adopted by member countries of the Region in 2022, and the Regional Action Plan for Mental Health for the WHO South-East Asia Region 2023-2030, emphasised on the shift to community-based services.

She said,

Besides being more efficient, community-based services are also better equipped to identify mental health concerns at an early stage, reducing the need for crisis intervention. This approach benefits individuals, alleviates the burden on emergency services and reduces the overall cost of mental health care.

Also Read, Mental Health Crisis Emphasises Access Issues: Study

Community-based mental health care shows better outcomes, reduces treatment gap, and increases coverage, Wazed stated.

Community-based care models emphasise on the creation of safe and supportive living environments within the broader society, which not only benefits individuals with mental disorders but also promotes empathy and understanding among the public, dispelling misconceptions, and reducing stigma.

Successful deinstitutionalisation, moving from tertiary care to community care, requires careful planning, collaboration, additional financial resources, and continuous monitoring. It needs parallel expansion of community care services and networks.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.


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