Conservative estimates tell us that 10-15% of the people in any community setting in India have the need for mental health interventions and guided counselling. Providing emotional and mental support for adolescents and those in their early twenties, therefore, is the need of the hour.
“Institutes of higher learning should establish linkages with mental healthcare providers, set community centres for promotion of mental health awareness and interventions via schools and colleges. Peer group/mentors should also be roped in for effective youth well-being,” suggests Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior psychiatrist at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi.
People who interact the most with the sick and the suffering –namely general practitioners (GPs) and MBBS doctors – are at the moment being given orientation in spotting and treating patients with mental problems. Talking about the 2012-2013 annual orientation course in mental health launched recently at Moolchand by the Institute of Mental Health and Life Skills Education, Dr Nagpal says, “it educates general practitioners and MBBS doctors about childhood and adolescent psychological disorders, (emotional, behavioural and developmental problems); diagnosis, assessment and early intervention.”
It aims to promote general awareness and responsibility regarding mental health issues in primary care and have consensus-building for future ideas and action for mental health awareness in youth to build the manpower of community mental health educators.
The doctors get trained in treatment of psychological disorders in children and adolescents — anxiety disorders, formalisation disorders, common psychiatric emergencies, schizophrenia psychosocial and rehabilitation, counselling and psychotherapy in primary healthcare.
On the need for such a programme, Dr Nagpal says “GPs are the primary caregivers for children and adolescents and such training programmes can polish their skills and equip them with basic techniques of diagnosing and treating childhood disorders. Early intervention by early identification serves to promote child and adolescent wellbeing.”