Hyderabad: According to data provided by the Union Ministry of Health, India has only 7,075 doctors to cater to the mental health needs of its population of 134 crore. Medical experts from the Indian Psychiatric Society say Telangana is also facing a severe shortage of mental health practitioners with just one hospital and 200 doctors to cater to its population of 3.5 crore.
Various studies show that on an average 10 per cent of the population across the world is bound to be suffering from some sort of mental illness. Common mental health disorders (CMHD) include anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and adjustment disorders. Over the past 16 years, the number of psychiatric patients in India has increased threefold, psychiatrists claim.
Dr Minhaj Zafar Nasirabadi, a professor at Deccan Medical College, said, "Around 10 per cent of people suffer from depression, one per cent have been diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia, and anxiety has been found to be the most common mental disorder with around 15 per cent patients suffering from it.”
Awareness of mental health problems, even among doctors is shockingly low, Dr Nasirbadi says. “We are trying to spread awareness about psychiatric disorders by organising seminars, conferences, and interactions to inform people about the newly identified complications and the various means to resolve them."
In order to make up for the lack of psychiatrists in our medical system, the government has increased the number of seats (in ratio) from 1:2 to 1:3 in government colleges over 25 years old. However, with India's growing population, the count of patients is also on the rise.
Experts believe there has been a significant increase in cases of mental illness in the past decade. A majority of patients suffering from mental health issues are young. Forty per cent of patients are between 16 and 29 years of age.
It has been observed that most psychiatric patients develop suicidal tendencies while some tend to resort to criminal activities. So, if the government pays heed to the gravity of this slow yet progressive mass mental apocalypse in the making, it could certainly formulate steps to check such activities in the initial stages, thereby easing the burden of the police and the judiciary, a medical expert said.
Dr K. Ashok Reddy, who teaches psychiatry, said, “The contributing factors to mental illness can be biological, psychological or social. When a psychiatrist diagnoses a patient, he has to take care of all these including genetic traits, which have been found to be responsible for at least a third of such problems.
Social treatment during childhood, and present environmental factors are the other two causative factors which play proportionate roles in the development of psychological problems.”
Social factors are determinants for common mental disorders like anxiety, OCD, frustration, whereas biological factors are the primary reason for the major mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc Dr Reddy added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted depression disorders to become the leading cause of distress across the globe by 2030. Depression is associated with disability which can result in significant morbidity. It is known to reduce the quality of life of patients to a significant extent.
According to WHO, roughly 200 million people globally were affected by depression in 2015. India conducted the National Mental Health Survey for the very first time in 2016. It revealed that 15 crore Indians were suffering from some kind of mental illness. One in 20 Indians was found to suffer from depression....