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Mental health care a reality for all – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Mental and emotional health problems have reached pandemic levels. Today, about 75 percent of Indians suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. India has the highest suicide rate per million population. The number of student suicides is on the rise. Verbal and physical violence against women in the family continues unabated. Prolonged school closures have resulted in severe emotional distress and school loss among children. Our young people suffer the most, and they should bring us a huge demographic dividend. It is now medically established that mental health problems cause serious physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in addition to neurological problems.

Relationship problems resulting from poor emotional health are reflected in an increase in divorce rates. Problems associated with rage and anger lead to serious crimes such as murder and rape. On the other hand, India has one of the lowest rates of psychologists and psychiatrists per million population. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few lonely voices, this pandemic is completely outside the public and state consciousness.

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Collectively, we believe that mental health should be a priority for stakeholders across the spectrum, below are some ideas to help turn the tide: The role of government Government has a huge role to play in providing support for mental health. First, it should significantly increase opportunities for high quality psychological and psychiatric education. If IIT or IIM can be in every state, why can’t there be NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurology) in every state?

Secondly, it is awareness. Mental health suffers from a huge stigma. In the same way that persistent and decisive awareness raising about family planning (which has the same stigma in India) has led to widespread practice of family planning, the combined efforts of the government and our excellent communication talents should kick-start a long-term, well-funded awareness program.

Third, mental health care should be equated with physical health care. Today, 18% of the GST is charged for mental health care, while the GST rate for physical health is zero. This anomaly needs to be corrected.

Fourth, the IRDA must ensure that all insurance companies offer comprehensive mental health coverage. Even after the Supreme Court ruled to do so, most insurance companies view mental health as an adjunct, and often non-drug therapy and treatment is not covered.

Fifth, every public hospital should have a psychiatric treatment unit of sufficient size and quality. Last but not least, mental health treatment efforts must be pursued with the same systematic and diligent efforts as Aadhaar, Digital Payments, Swachh Bharat.

The Role of Schools and Parents With the exception of a few enlightened schools and colleges, educational institutions do not pay enough attention and invest in the emotional and mental health of students. While this always applies, teachers should focus on helping returning students deal with the emotional baggage they have accumulated over the past 18 months. Children and adolescents who have emotional health problems almost always become adults with behavioral and emotional disorders. Children is our future. Educators must ensure that our future generations grow up emotionally and physically healthy.

The Role of Employers As a result of the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the understanding of the importance of employee emotional health among HR employees. However, in our experience, this awareness has not extended to business leaders or boards of directors. Emotional health programs are underfunded, often unstructured, and sporadic. As a result, we are seeing an increase in the number of non-motivated employees with lower productivity and higher dropout rates. After all, a miserable and dysfunctional organization leads to poor business results. Global research has shown that every dollar invested in emotional health yields a 4-5x ROI. Business leaders and boards of directors must view emotional health not as an expense, but as a high-return investment.



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