Seven per cent of Indians, or around 7 crore people, suffer from mental disorder in one or the other form, but the healthcare facilities are woefully inadequate. Describing the situation as serious rights issue, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken up the matter with the Medical Council of India (MCI).
A report by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore says around 2 crore people need treatment for “serious mental disorder”. While 30-35 lakh of them need hospitalisation, the number of beds available for such patients is only 29,000.
“Morbidity on account of mental illness is set to overtake cardiovascular diseases as the single largest health risk in India by 2010,” wrote National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) secretary general Akhil Kumar Jain, quoting the NIMHANS study in the preface of the medical institute’s report — Mental Health Care And Human Rights.
The report was released at a seminar organized to mark the NHRC foundation day on Sunday. The NHRC has termed the treatment gap — where 50-90 per cent people are unable to access health services — as a “serious human rights issue”.
Calling for urgent steps to augment infrastructure, the NHRC said it has taken up the issue with the MCI and NIMHANS. The stigma attached to such a condition and the discrimination that it brings is also a matter of concern, the rights panel has said.
“In the modern age we are now living with increasing stress owing to various factors. In the times to come, the stresses and strains will be further accentuated, thereby making mental health a very significant issue,” said Jain.
Going into the reasons for prevalence of mental disorders, NHRC chairperson Justice S Rajendra Babu said, “The changing economic world order with the impact of globalisation, peer pressure, professional tensions, diminishing family values or institutions are resulting in tremendous mental stress or disorders over a period of time”.
Expressing worry at the “huge gap in manpower”, the NHRC said “psychiatrists are mostly concentrated in urban areas and that, too, in four or five metros. In the rural areas, the situation is a cause for serious concern. Same holds true for clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses and community social worker working in these areas”.