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Mental illness to be the greatest killer by 2020

DNIS News Network - A three-day conference on ‘Recent Trends in Mental Health in India’ drew attention to a rapid increase in cases of mental illness, and the lack of policy implementation for dealing with these cases both at the preventive and treatment level.

Picture of panelists at mental health seminar

The conference was organised from 4 May by Amity Institute of Behavioural Health and Allied Sciences (A.I.B.H.A.S.) in collaboration with the Hope Foundation. In his inaugural address, Dr R.K. Srivastava, Additional Director General Health Services, Government of India, said that great importance was being given to the issue by researchers and practitioners of medical sciences.

He, however, laid stress on the effective implementation of the various laws and regulations in this field. Dr. Srivastava lamented that psychologists and psychiatrists are not using, to the extent possible, advances and breakthroughs in treating mental illness. He called for greater integration of these breakthroughs and everyday clinical practices.

Dr. Deepak Raheja, Director, Hope Foundation, said a stressful lifestyle and increasing alienation, as people continue to move into urban areas, among other factors, are expected to make mental illness the greatest killer by 2020.

As a fundamental suggestion, speakers at the conference called for a more rigorous implementation of the Mental Health Act, which lays down several recommendations -- modernising state health facilities, bringing about greater awareness about the problems and treatment of mental illness - for dealing with the problem. Over the three days of the conference, experts presented research papers on a wide range of issues, from neuropsychological to rehabilitation needs of persons with severe mental illness.