Mental health in India

Mental health is an integral part of health and is more than the absence of mental illnesses. It refers to a broad array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being, prevention of mental disorders, and treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders.

Interventions, focusing on raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health, are necessary for addressing the situation.

Determinants of mental health

Mental health, like other aspects of health, can be affected by a range of socioeconomic factors that need to be addressed through comprehensive strategies for promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery in a whole-of-government approach.

Determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one's thoughts, emotions, behaviours and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, living standards, working conditions, and community social supports. Poverty and low education levels are the key amongst these factors. Specific psychological and personality factors also contribute towards the vulnerability. Genetic factors also play some role.

Treatment of mental health disorders is of utmost importance. Policy makers should be encouraged to promote availability of and access to cost-effective treatment of common mental disorders at the primary health care level.

Mental health promotion:

Mental health promotion and protection involves creating an environment which promotes healthy living and encourages people to adopt healthy lifestyle. Mental health promotion will now receive more focus, with its inclusion into the Sustainable Development Goals.

National mental health policies must be in place which not only promote treatment of mental health disorders, but provide overarching directions on broader issues for ensuring mental health promotion. This calls for a multisectoral engagement and a life-course approach.

Mental health in India:

In India, WHO estimates that the burden of mental health problems is of the tune of 2,443 DALYs per 100,000 population , and the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100,000 population is 21.1. It is estimated that, in India, the economic loss, due to mental health conditions, between 2012-2030, is 1.03 trillions of 2010 dollars.

Mental health workforce in India (per 100,000 population) include psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07).