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Pitiable state of mental health in our country

DNIS News Network -- The country faces severe scarcity of resources for mental health care. The absence of relevant knowledge and education adds to the plight faced by several patients and their families.

While developed countries have a ratio of at least 100 psychiatrists per million population, certain districts of our country have only about one or two psychiatrists for one million people.

With growth in population, there is an increasing need for mental health care facilities and professionals. It would take a long time for the country to equip itself with a well-trained population of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, nurses and social workers to meet the demands of the country. However, in the meanwhile, the government can launch short term training programmes for medical officers so that they can join the mental health team. Training family members of patients in basic-care skills is another way of increasing human resources.

Education is an important tool to enable society in dealing with patients with mental illnesses. The public has to be taught that mental disorders are treatable, they are not inheritable, the patients can take up work and other responsibilities and recovered persons can marry and lead a normal family life.

Total mental healthcare requires a number of community-level services like rehabilitation services. Due to a lack of these services a number of patients suffer from social handicaps and low self-esteem. They need a protected and secure environment to develop confidence and social skills. There is a need for voluntary organisations to take up such responsibilities and ensure a safe and healthy society for people with mental disorders.