The Mental Health Initiative is a holistic approach that promotes awareness about mental health issues, provides medical support and reduces stigma and discrimination of people with mental illnesses.
India, an abode for over 120 billion people, is currently a home to around 10 million mentally disabled people- Around 1 in 100 in India is having issues related to mental health.
Currently one qualified psychiatrist in India is catering to the needs of 10,000 mentally disabled patients (latest figures indicate that there are only 3500 qualified psychiatrist in India at present). The equations are not going to change in near future. This growing disparity between the number of mentally ill persons and the available treatment facilities and trained professionals is reflected in the large ‘treatment gap’ in the community.
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Factors that affect mental health care system in India are summarized below:
Scarcity of mental health services (professionals and facilities) in the public health services
Poor utilization of available services by the ill population and their families Poor understanding of psychological distress
Limited acceptance of modern medical care for mental disorders among the general population
Problems in recovery and reintegration of persons with mental illnesses Lack of institutionalized mechanisms for organization of mental healthcare
Mental health initiative of AarogyaSeva will augment the parallel systems run by the government and Non-Governmental Organizations .
The Mental Health Initiative is a brain child of AarogyaSeva that aims to meet the health care needs of the mentally disabled people. It is a holistic approach that promotes awareness about mental health issues, provides medical support and reduces stigma and discrimination of people with mental illnesses.
With a strong network of doctors (including highly psychiatrists and psychologists) and non-medical volunteers, AarogyaSeva has all the required artillery to combat this situation. AarogyaSeva will share its resources with partnering organizations to ultimate benefit the needy populations.
Sugganahalli PHC Pilot Project:
Sugganahalli is a small village in Ramanagara District of Karnataka State, India. It is located 51 KM from State capital Bangalore. The KRS foundation has started public health unit in Sugganahalli in 1994. In 1999, the State government upgraded it to Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) through funds obtained from the World Bank by adding surgical and maternity facilities. The state government runs this center with support from KRS foundation. It is managed under the supervision of Dr. H. Sudarshan, founder of Karuna trust and a renowned social worker.
Currently this PHC caters to the needs of 15,000 people from over 40 villages. On a monthly basis, the staff at this center treats an average of 1450 outpatients, 350 in-patients and 15 maternity case. The Sugganahalli PHC has integrated mental health services into primary healthcare like other PHCs run by the Karuna Trust. It has around 400 mentally disabled patients registered. The staff working in the PHC are responsible to visit the villages and reach out to mentally disabled patients, mobilize patients for periodic checkups, and follow up. However, the scarcity of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists is a major obstruction in their path. Without continuous monitoring by qualified professionals, the initiative may turn counterproductive.
To help them overcome the obstructions, AarogyaSeva has partnered with Karuna trust to periodically mobilize its qualified professionals to PHCs maintained by Karuna trust. Till date, 7 interventions- 1 in Mysore, 6 in Sugganahalli were conducted, benefiting around 250 patients with different mental disabilities.
Plans for future
The scenario of mental health care is similar or even worse in other parts of Karnataka. Lack of qualified psychiatrists is the most common issue affecting the quality of health services delivered to mentally disabled patients in Karnataka. The Government, with its limited resources, is not in a position to provide immediate remedy to counter the situation.
It now depends on organizations like ours to look for new ways to reach out to such people.
In this regard, AarogyaSeva has planned to scale up the initiative to cover more PHC and use its team efficiently. In the coming months, we are planning to extend our initiative to 10 PHC around Bangalore city. The team for each intervention will have psychiatrist, general physician, trainer (to educate para-medic staff) and non-medical volunteers (Translator, coordinator).
Though all our service providers are volunteers and do not take any money for this cause, the expenses incurred are towards operational and administrative costs such as transportation, food and medicines.
So we request you to kindly lend your helping hand in carrying this movement forward. Your contributions, however small, will be diligently used for the benefit of the people.