Let’s talk statistics
20% of young adults are known to experience some level mental disorders, globally. In India, only 7.3% of its 365 million youth report such problems. This speaks volumes to the magnitude and manifestations of public stigma associated with mental health and thus even to date reducing mental-health-related stigma among the youth still remains a large part of the work in India.
From autism to early intellectual disability in childhood, adult conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and psychosis or dementia in old age, the world is at large is facing a challenge in the form of mental illness.
According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness makes about 15% of the total disease conditions around the world. The same estimate also suggests that India has one of the largest populations affected from mental illness.
As a result, WHO has labelled India as the world’s ‘most depressing country’. It is estimated that between 1990 to 2017, one in seven people from India have suffered from mental illness ranging from depression, anxiety to severe conditions such as schizophrenia, according to a study. It is no exaggeration to suggest that the country is under a mental health epidemic.
The first and foremost hurdle in India’s battle in tackling mental health is the lack of awareness and sensitivity around the issue. There is a huge stigma around people suffering from any kind of mental health issues.
The age old but still very relevant “what will the society think?”, “Will I bring shame to my family” etc. are very real reasons for families to not reach out for help. They are often tagged as ‘lunatics’ by the society. This leads to a vicious cycle of shame, suffering and isolation of the patients.
Coupled with a serious shortage of mental healthcare professionals, which according to WHO, in 2011, there were 0·301 psychiatrists and 0·047 psychologists for every 100,000 patients suffering from a mental health disorder in India. These issues aggravate the scale of the problem and are telling of the urgent need for immediate redressal.
Care and Counseling
When it comes to providing the right care to patients, there is a need for innovative models to deepen the penetration of services. One such model is the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) by the ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India. Under this model, community health workers not only educate and sensitize women and children about mental diseases but also guide them to reach the right expert in their locality. In other words, they act as a bridge between patients and the most optimal care around them. However, the model is yet be scaled up and become gender agnostic.
How Telemedicine is changing the narrative
With timely intervention, continuing to raise awareness about the issue, availability of professional help are some of the ways to improve the situation. It is thus imperative to believe and propagate that people with mental illness deserve to live their lives with dignity and grace.
At Syncremedies we believe that it is a collaborative public-private-social partnership to change things considerably. We are part of the change and encourage you to talk to your friends and family about mental health just like any other illness.
If you or anyone you know needs counseling our expert team at Syncremedies is here to assist via our tele/video consultations and in-person visits.