Punjab and Haryana have far too less psychiatrists to treat growng number of cases.
Punjab has a startling number of more than 1.9 million people with mental illness, of the 60 million plus Indians — a number more than the population of South Africa — who suffer from the malaise, according to latest calculations.
A recent report in The Indian Express estimated that Punjab’s neighboring state Haryana is not too far behind with 17,74,602 people reportedly suffering from mental disorders, and 4,80,522 in Himachal Pradesh.
The Indo-Asian News Service reported that nearly 10-20 million Indians (1-2 per cent of the population) suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and nearly 50 million (5 per cent of population) suffered from common mental disorders like depression and anxiety at the end of 2005, Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda informed the Lok Sabha in May, quoting data from the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, 2005, the last report available.
India spends 0.06 per cent of its health budget on mental health care. This is less than Bangladesh (0.44 per cent). Most developed nations spend above four per cent of their budgets on mental health research, infrastructure, frameworks and talent pool, according to a 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) report.
The government has commissioned a national mental health survey through the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, to estimate the number of mental patients and utilization patterns of mental health services.
Started on June 1, 2015, the study interviewed 27,000 respondents by April 5, 2016, according to a reply in the Lok Sabha from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India is short of health professionals to address mental issues, particularly at the district and sub-district level.
There are only 3,800 psychiatrists, 898 clinical psychologists, 850 psychiatric social workers and 1,500 psychiatric nurses nationwide, according to a reply by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Lok Sabha in December 2015.
This means there were three psychiatrists per million people, according to data from WHO, 18 times fewer than the commonwealth norm of 5.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people.
By this estimate, India is short of 66,200 psychiatrists. Similarly, based on the global average of 21.7 psychiatric nurses per 100,000 people, India needs 269,750 nurses.
The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, which provides for protection and promotion of rights of persons with mental illness during the delivery of health care in institutions and in the community, was passed unanimously by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) on August 8, 2016.
The new Bill has increased the funding to centers of excellence in mental health, from Rs 30 crore to Rs 33.70 crore per center.
As many as 15 centers of excellence in mental health and 35 post-graduate training departments in mental health specialties have been funded to address the shortage of mental health professionals nationwide.
The Indian Express reported that nearly 2.6 lakh new cases of mental illness were registered at the Out Patient Departments (OPD) in the hospitals of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in the year 2014-15, according to a report released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The report reveals that the Haryana government stated in the affidavits that there were 72,2825 persons suffering from mental illness. Punjab and Himachal didn’t provide such information of their respective states.
The report reveals that out of the three states, Punjab has the maximum number of inpatient beds in the psychiatry, private and district hospitals with 501 beds. The number of beds in Haryana and Himachal were recorded at 126 and 123, respectively, during that year.
On the new cases registered in three states, Punjab has new registrations totaling 1,19,611 while in Haryana and Himachal new registrations recorded were 1,42,109 and 4,835, respectively.
The report has also provided the number of psychiatrists which were available in the state. The number of psychiatrists, as per the reports, were 12 each in Himachal and Haryana, and 31 in Punjab in 2014-15.
(This post was revised on 9/9/2016. The headline was changed and the number of cases in Punjab corrected).