With 8,00,000 people killing themselves every year, suicide is the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds while half of all mental illness begins by the tender age of 14. However, what is a matter of concern, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), is that mental health is yet to become a priority for Governments given that the sector currently receives less than 1 per cent of global aid.
Ringing alarm bells, the WHO has warned that while presently mental health conditions cost the world US $ 2.5 trillion a year , the figure is expected to balloon to US $ 6 trillion by 2030 if timely steps are not taken to check mental health disorders.
In India, mental health disorders and illness are on increase mainly due to changing social dynamics, taboos, unawareness and lack of timely and adequate treatment. As many as 80 per cent of people with any form of mental or substance do not seek treatment in India, a new report on mental health released by Lancet Commission has said.
The earlier reports published in Lancet too have pointed out that the burden of the disease in India increased from 3 per cent in 1990 to 6 per cent in 2013, whereas in China mental, neurological and substance-use disorders, accounted for 7 per cent of disability-adjusted life years in 1990 and the percentage increased to 11 percentage by 2013.
Though the report acknowledged India’s efforts to get in place the landmark mental health care bill in 2017 entitling people with mental disorders to access comprehensive medical and social care services in community settings, it said the quality of care continues to be poor for mental health patients.
There is a severe shortage of specialists in India: just 4000 psychiatrists, 3500 psychologists, and 3500 mental health social workers. This is too low given that 150 million Indians need mental health care. Just 30 million are seeking care.
The Lancet report says that “even when treatment is sought, its quality is poor - the World Mental Health Surveys reported that one in five people with depressive disorder received minimally adequate treatment in high-income countries, dropping to just one in 27 in LMICs (low and middle income countries).”
We must work towards reducing the stigma and increasing awareness through media. Also, we need to encourage people to come out and talk about it, said Dr Smitha Deshpande, head of the department of psychiatry at Delhi-based Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
According to 2015-16 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) survey, every sixth person in India needs mental health help of some sort. Of all the age groups, it is the adolescents who need most help with mental health issues.