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Mental Health Initiatives by the government

16 Sep 2016

Mental health and its issues have been and still are a concern to our country. While it needs to be addressed at a social as well as personal basis, there are some measures that can provide immense help to the cause but can only be implemented on a national scale. Consequently, mental health has been addressed by our government over the last 6 decades and here is an insight.

Let us first go through the timeline of the initiatives taken by the government for improving the mental health of India.

The Mental Health Programme adopted in 1892 is considered to be the landmark of this process and continues to be a guiding force for the same. It had the support of the World Health Organization and undertook steps to integrate mental health care with general health care. Improvement of departments of psychiatry at government medical colleges, development of human resources and strengthening of mental hospitals, setting up of centres of excellence for training of mental health professionals were some of the means.

The District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), a constituent of NMHP was developed during 1984 – 1990 which was spread in 4 states. It expanded to 25 districts in 20 states during 1995–2002. Over a period of 7 years that followed, it increased to over 125 districts.

The strategy of the NMHP was restructured and formally implemented in October 2003, having a total budget of 130 crore, which was initially 190 crore.

In 2006, United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) led to more changes in favour of the mentally ill in India. Some of the laws were proposed to be changed in accordance with the existing situation of mental health in the society.

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007- 2012) saw a considerable increase in the funding of NHHP to 472.91 crore. Manpower development and setting up and reinforcement of units of psychiatry, departments of clinical psychology, psychiatric social work, and psychiatric nursing were included in the agenda. Moreover, the incomplete activities of the Tenth Five-Year Plan were to be completed. Modernization of state-run mental hospitals, implementation of the existing DMHPs, and integration of the NMHP with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) were also part and parcel of the Plan.

The National Human Rights Commission conducted inspections of mental hospitals in India in 1998 and 2008 and as a result, the human rights of those who are mentally ill were recognized. After the initial examination in 1998, the facilities of mental hospitals were to be upgraded and funds were allotted for the purpose. There were many positive changes after 10 years when the reports of 2008 were studied.

Manpower development is an integral part of improving mental health facilities. It includes adequate training of mental health professionals, namely psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, counselors, medical psychiatric social workers, etc. Keeping this in mind, 19 Post Graduate departments across 19 institutes were supported for manpower development in 2009, wherein 408 crore was allocated.

In January 2009, a volume on Spirituality and Mental Health was published by the Indian Psychiatric Society. It emphasized on various aspects of spiritualism and mental health, where Yoga and meditation were used to cure many of the mental disorders.

In Feb 2010, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) commenced the process of drafting a new mental health law to replace the existing one.

23 districts were reviewed in 2011 for the effectiveness of the DMHP. It was conducted by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, and the task was commissioned by MoHFW. MoHFW also appointed a Mental Health Policy Group to frame a national Mental Health Policy and Plan. The members of the Policy Group included mental health professionals, user and care-giver representatives, public health experts and senior officials of the MoHFW.

The 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017) is to lay stress on the DMHP and extend it to all districts of India.

The developments in the mental health sector, elicited by the initiatives of our government are commendable. Unfortunately, it is just a drop in the ocean. There is a lot more to be done and mental disorders must be tackled on a war footing rather than attaching a stigma to it. We should strive to create a nation where every person has the access to mental health care of proficient standard.


Tags: Mental Health initiatives, Government