Mental illness will be the biggest health risk in India by next year but the number of specialist doctors to deal with it is grossly inadequate. Hoping to fill the huge gap, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has suggested that mental health be made a separate subject for medical students.
NHRC has been reviewing the status of mental health in the country in various regional meetings with health experts and other stakeholders,
"Given the stress of modern life, the problems relating to mental health are going to become more and more complex over the years. Already 20 million people suffer from serious mental disorder and another 50 million from one mild form or the other," NHRC member P.C. Sharma said in a newsletter.
"The country, as of now, is not sufficiently equipped both in terms of infrastructure and mental health care professionals," he added.
Suggesting reforms, Sharma said MBBS students should have a separate subject on mental health and passing that be made compulsory to overcome the shortage of specialists in the field.
According to the NHRC, only 40 government run mental health care institutions for a population of over a billion is grossly inadequate.
"The attitude of mental health care professionals should be more sensitive. And the approach of custodial confinement in mental health care institutions should be changed to treatment and care and involvement of society should be encouraged," Sharma said.
He also said that research and development in all mental health care facilities should be expedited.
"The condition in most state run mental health institutions is deplorable. There is an urgent need to address the issue of rehabilitation of people who have been in such homes for a very long time," he added.