Monday, January 17, 2011

India struggles to add more mental health professionals nationwide

From The Hindu in India. In this June 2010 photo, mentally ill persons, picked up by Chennai Corporation for rehabilitation, are seen at the Institute of Mental Health in Chennai, India.

A provision should be made under the proposed Mental Health Care Act, 2010 to increase the number of doctors treating mentally ill people in the country, insist experts.

There are only 4000 psychiatrists in the country whereas the number of mentally ill people is about 15 crore, Dr. Samir Parekh, a psychiatrist with Max Health Care, said.

“Nearly 15 crore of the population here suffer from some or the other kind of mental illness. They cannot be treated well because there are very limited doctors dealing with such cases. The legislation, the Union Health Ministry is planning for persons suffering from mental illness should keep this also in mind,” Mr. Parekh said.

This is one of the issues to be discussed at the upcoming Annual Conference of Indian Psychiatric Society to be held here between 16-19 of this month, he said.

“There has been a lot of development in the medicinal field to treat mentally ill people. We have surgical procedures and with telepsychiatry being practised by many hospitals many such patients can be cured. But the need for the doctors is immense. We now need 40,000 psychiatrists as this mentally ill population may rise in another ten years,” Jitendra Nagpal, Programme Director and Psychiatrist of VIMHANS said.

“We welcome the laws being planned by the government but we fear that it might falter in its commitment to set them up as the proposed plans would be costly to establish and maintain,” Dr. Neelam Bohra, chairperson of the Indian Psychiatry Society said.

Theatre artist, film actor and a psychiatrist, Mohan Agashe said, “The demand for psychologists and psychiatrists has increased. There was a time when we approached school principals requesting them that we would like to tell students all about mental illness but were denied the opportunity. Today schools insist that we meet their students and discuss about it at regular intervals.”