One recent statistic revealed that over 50 million people in India suffer from at least one mental illness. In a recent speech by President Ram Nath Kovind, he stated that India is on the brink of a mental health epidemic, and encouraged the nation to continue addressing these concerns. However, despite the recent attention and increasing prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, the nation continues to struggle. Certain cultural variables continue to make it challenging (and sometimes even taboo) to receive effective treatment.
How can the government and citizens of India overcome the mental health epidemic that seems inevitable? Explore three of the top barriers that are preventing the nation from moving forward.
The need for mental health professionals
India is currently facing a serious shortage of mental health professionals. It was recently reported that “the country needs 11,500 psychiatrists but has just 3,500.” This significant discrepancy has made it expensive and difficult for the millions needing treatment to get access to it. Therefore, an effort must be made to encourage those who are about to enter school (or those who are seeking a change of career) to consider pursuing a career as a psychiatrist.
Better access to treatment
Treatment and care for schizophrenia, depression, and other mental health conditions is needed in all parts of India. While the government has made physical ailments a priority, there is still room for improvement with providing access to mental health resources for all individuals. In 2017, Parliament passed a major mental healthcare law. This law has made it a right for those suffering from mental illness to have access to affordable mental healthcare, live in a community, and have confidentiality. There are other significant rights named in this law, which has been a major step in the right direction. Looking forward, additional access to reliable and effective mental health treatment must still be made a priority.
Break the stigma
Mental health challenges are still considered to be a taboo subject by many living in India. The stigma that still exists within the culture prevents the 50+ million individuals who are suffering from mental health issues from receiving the proper treatment. While there are efforts to change these attitudes, much more will need to be done to help afflicted residents recover. By opening up a national dialogue about mental health, the country can make progress in overcoming the stigma.
While the current state of mental health treatment in India seems to be discouraging, much can be done to move the nation in the right direction. Both citizens and government leaders can work to encourage more individuals to become psychiatrists, improve access to treatment, and break the stigma of mental health.
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