Social Stigma and unawareness combined doesn’t let 1 in 10 Indians get treated for Mental Disorders

The world’s second largest mental health survey carried out by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Bangalore, conducted in 12 Indian states over 40,000 people revealed that every one in ten person above the age of 18 suffers from different mental health related issues.

The survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare concluded rather shocking statistical facts relating to the current status quo of the country in regard with mental health which included about 1% of the Indian population being prone to suicidal tendencies; 10% commonly suffering from anxiety, depression and substance abuse; 10% men above the age of 18 suffering from alcohol abuse and most shockingly less than 25% of the people in need of professional help to rectify these issues actually access treatment.

The survey further brought to light how the Indian system isn’t sufficiently equipped to deal with the prevalent issues concerning mental health. It also formed a link between such suffering with the economic status of the victim where Dr G Gururaj, Head, Centre for Public Health, NIMHANS said, “Urban areas showed more prevalence of mental health issues than the rural areas. When it came to economic factors, lower income groups and those with low levels of education had a higher prevalence than those who were better off.” The average spending of a family with a person suffering any such issue is recorded to be anywhere between Rs.1000 to 2500, which obviously decreases their remaining purchasing power. It further noted that the earning capacity of such individual too decreases.

Mental Disorders in India are nothing short of a taboo, “We also studied systems in this survey and found that less than 25 per cent of people with mental health issues were accessing the treatment and sometimes not availing the same due to lack of availability and also the stigma attached to mental health issues” contributed Dr.Vivek Benegal, Head, Centre for Addiction Medicine at NIMHANS. He noted that 10% Indian men above the age of 18 suffer from alcohol abuse that also lead to obesity and other non-communicable diseases.

In a gender comparison, the survey found that twice as many women were more prone to disorders related with stress such as anxiety and phobias. Either due to cause or effect, mental health disorders often co-exist with different non-communicable diseases. Anxiety with cardio-vascular diseases and depression with cancer are commonly observed.

Needless to say, there’s absolute urgency in the country to increase awareness on mental health issues and also create a change in perceptions to reduce the stigma attached to them. The survey emphasized on the same and suggested that the involvement of educational institutes as well as workplaces could be of great help to the silent sufferers and those unaware.

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About the Author: Vivian Briscoe

As a research analyst at Vivian has worked with the Research & Consulting Services Unit, over end to end customized projects along with projects requiring CI and Due Diligence covering manufacturing, heavy engineering, and infrastructure industry.

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