Recently, the Government informed the parliament that it conducted the National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) of India through the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, as per which the prevalence of mental disorders in adults over the age of 18 years is about 10.6%. Significant gender differentials exist with regard to different mental disorders. The overall prevalence of mental morbidity was higher among males (13.9%) than among females (7.5%); Prevalence of mental disorders/morbidity in age group 13-17 was 7.3%, 18 – 29 years: 7.5%, 30-39 years: 14.6%, 40-49 years: 18.4%, 50-59 years: 16.1% and 60 years and above: 15.1%.
The more things are supposed to change the more they remain the same. The covid-19 pandemic, unfortunately, added a toll on mental health.
Public health experts have repeatedly said that there is a manifold increase in mental health cases amid the virulent disease with many attributing the rising stress and anxiety levels to isolation, loss of loved ones, economic uncertainty and the fear of contracting the disease.
As per an expert, nearly half of patients do not have any history of mental illness and despite the lifting of lockdowns; the number of cases remained largely the same.
Without a doubt, the lives have been disrupted, livelihoods of the people hurt, or even destroyed due to the pandemic. As a consequence, evidently, there is anxiety, fear, stress, and trauma.
The pandemic has surely aggravated the situation, leaving those having such issues to struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from what is basically and undeniable a disease which to a large extent is curable. What makes the challenge more difficult is stereotypes and prejudice such people face purely as a result from misconceptions about mental illness. As a result, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life—good jobs, satisfactory health care, and association with a diverse group of people.
The people having mental illness not only face the public stigma which is the reaction that the general population has towards them but also self-stigma which is defined as prejudice which they turn against themselves.
The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides for integration of mental health services into general healthcare services at all levels of healthcare including primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare and in all health programmes run by the appropriate Government. As such, the mental healthcare services need to be extended through various levels of healthcare delivery systems.