Saturday, 11 October 2014

Delhi budget skips wellness of mind

NEW DELHI: Delhi spends only 2% of its health budget on infrastructure development and programmes aimed to tackle mental illness. Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) is the only specialized health facility for mental illnesses, which affect 8-10% of the population. Only a few other hospitals run departments that offer psychiatric help.

Health experts say there is an urgent need to augment infrastructure and expenditure to address the rising burden of these diseases, particularly in urban centres.

"Research shows 70-90% persons suffering from psychiatric illnesses do not get treated at all. At times, it is because of ignorance or the stigma attached to it but lack of health facility is also responsible," said Dr Nimesh Desai, director of IHBAS, who is also a member of the state mental health authority. He said that the budget allocation for mental illnesses needs to be at least 5-10% of the total expenditure for health sector.

"We need to create more facilities for rehabilitation of such patients. Promoting community-based models for care is also important," he said. Depression, doctors say, is the most common psychiatric illness accounting for nearly two-thirds of all the cases, followed by anxiety and schizophrenia among others. Sub-syndrome mental illnesses—psychological problems which do not qualify as mental illnesses—are more common.

"There is rift in social life of the urban populace. Personal dissatisfaction, disinterest in work, lack of motivation, domestic problems and marital discord are some common causes of psychiatric health issues," said a senior doctor. He said the burden of these diseases will escalate further in the next 10 years.

The Delhi government is running mobile vans to provide basic treatment facilities for mental illnesses to families that are not able to take the patient to a hospital due to the patient's adamant behaviour and non-cooperation. Dr Desai said that this initiative has also helped in identifying patients who were suffering because of ignorance. IHBAS, in the run up to World Mental Health Day on October 10, is also organizing mental health camps and seminars to create awareness.

Dr Pankaj Kumar, one of the coordinators of the event, said IHBAS is going to start an e-directory of mental health services offered by the state, private sector and even NGOs which patients and caregivers will soon be able to access online.

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