CHENNAI: Mental Health First Aid India has launched its training programmes for psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists and social workers in Chennai. The programme focuses on providing mental health first aid strategies to the public through training and research.
Mental Health First Aid India has brought in allied mental health professionals to voluntarily join a work group to contribute their knowledge, skills, and expertise to the process of adaptation of the standard Mental Health First Aid programme for India and particularly, for Tamil Nadu. First developed in Australia in 2001, mental health first aid training has evolved into a global movement with licensed programs across 22 countries over the years and has started in Chennai last year.
In a disaster-prone city like Chennai, medicos emphasise a community-based approach to provide mental health first aid to recognize mental health issues, understand the symptoms and to extend appropriate initial help and support.
“As the disasters like cyclone, floods, drought hit the city, they can have a traumatic effect on people. Reports and research suggest that mental distress can lead to risk factors among people, following disasters. Mental Health first aid is more of a supportive response to people who are suffering and may need social support,” said Dr Gloria Claessen, senior consultant, Mental Health First Aid India. A survivor of a disaster may undergo depression, fear, shock, anxiety, suicidal tendency and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the mental health workforce in India per one lakh population includes 0.3 per cent psychiatrists, 0.12 per cent nurses, 0.07 per cent psychologists and 0.07 per cent social workers as per WHO estimates. Therefore, mental health first aid needs to be emphasized.
“Tamil Nadu has grown as a medical capital and we have new advancements for all illnesses, but there is a lot yet to be done in case of mental health. A mental health strategy with an individualistic approach at a family level and at community-level to fight the mental trauma they undergo post-disaster is needed in the city,” said Dr Erinda Shah, mental health expert.