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Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 24 Mar 2017 Stigma in mental car ...

Stigma in mental care under focus

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Mar 24, 2017, 6:17 am IST
Updated Mar 24, 2017, 6:55 am IST
Over 10 percent of population suffer from depression and anxiety
Representational image
 Representational image

KOCHI: More than 100 million people in India, over 10 percent of the population, suffer from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, but the society’s views about these are clouded by several misconceptions, with exorcism and magic still considered a part of treatment in rural India and even some urban areas, said experts assembled at Amrita University for a three-day workshop on global mental health. They singled out stigma as a major factor contributing to the huge burden of mental morbidity in the country, preventing as many as 80% of patients from seeking treatment.

The International Conference on Nurturing Global Mental Health was organised by the department of social work, Amrita University, and School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, with dozens of speakers from all over India and the US attending. On the prevalence of mental disorders in India, Dr M.K. Suja, chairperson, department of social work, Amrita University, said: “Women, children, elderly and the disabled are most vulnerable to mental disorders because of their dependency on others. There is also an urban slant, with the prevalence of schizophrenia, mood disorders and stress-related disorders being up to three times higher in cities than in rural areas. Overall, the prevalence of mental morbidity is almost double among males than females.”

 

“Most people don’t take treatment for mental illness due to the fear of stigma, isolation or rejection. Many patients prefer to visit a psychiatrist far away from their hometown because they do not want to be recognised. There is also a lack of awareness about symptoms,” Dr Suja added.  Nancy J. Smyth, dean, school of social work, University at Buffalo, New York, said that developing nations face unique challenges in addressing mental health concerns. “Modern evidence-based mental health treatments have been developed within Western cultural models, and it's unclear how well these will transfer to developing countries. These countries also face a variety of public health threats and limited resources, so mental health remains a low priority for them,” she added.

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Location: India, Kerala




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