Author Name: Tejashwini Havannavar
Qualifications: BA Philosophy, MA Philosophy, Logic-based Therapist (specialisation in Philosophical Counselling)
Designation: Former Consultant Counsellor, ACRO Mental Health Services.
Word count: 533 words
Reading time: 6 mins
Reviewed by: Sareem Athar and Aishwarya Krishna Priya
In India, the topic of mental health is still received by raised eyebrows, big eyes and the judgemental mindset of someone being a “lunatic” no wonder India is one of the most depressing countries in the world! Judging people for their struggles adds to people’s suffering, making them believe that talking about their feelings will always be looked down upon (1). Hence, it is better to shut themselves up, which brings loneliness, frustration, and depression (2).
As the pandemic came around the corner, people's mental health deteriorated, and they were forced to live in closed spaces, in those four walls, without any external stimulation, which led to depression (3). As social beings, we are inherited to socialise and make people around us feel belongingness, which was uprooted due to the pandemic. As the issue of mental health is always neglected, the pandemic made situations worse in India (4).
India is currently home to a population of over a billion thousand people, a study conducted by WHO in 2015 shows that one in five Indians suffer from depression; due to a lack of awareness, stigma and poor access to professional help, very few would be able to access support for their illness (5). Stigma, lack of understanding and poor access are one set of problems, and the other side to this is there are 0.03 psychiatrists to 0.07 patients, which means that India has a poor number of mental healthcare providers, which in turn puts pressure on healthcare providers (6).
Mental health problems do not come in categories; they can affect us at any given point, at any given age and under any given circumstance; hence it becomes important to focus on initiatives that can help people gain access to professional help. India suffers largely due to a lack of awareness and stigma, there is enough evidence to see that people are shamed when they talk about their feelings and emotions. It is natural to isolate and hide from your issues when you are looked down upon (7).
There is a lack of professionals, which is also a part of the problem while battling stigma. The number of psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals is comparatively less than the number of people suffering from mental illness which puts lots of pressure on mental healthcare providers. As there is a lack of resources, people who want to seek help find it difficult to know where to go for help (8).
According to the World Health Organisation, India's mental health workforce is poorly staffed. There is a significant shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists compared to the number of patients suffering from mental health issues (9). According to the international organisation's data, there are only three psychiatrists and psychologists for every 1,00,000 people. Roughly 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million suffer from some anxiety disorder. India has one of the highest prevalences of mental illnesses globally (10).
These are certain facts and statistics to show what the situation is about mental health. Several research, surveys and data are available to see where we lack and how we can make mental health inclusive and accessible to people (11).
1. Murney MA, Sapag JC, Bobbili SJ, Khenti A. Stigma and discrimination related to mental health and substance use issues in primary health care in Toronto, Canada: a qualitative study. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being [Internet]. 2020;15(1):1744926. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2020.1744926
2. Neha. Like186 Comments, Neha., Budiarko AA, Chakraborty P, Salas D. Mental health in India [Internet]. Voices of Youth. 2021 [cited 2023Jan6]. Available from: https://www.voicesofyouth.org/blog/mental-health-india
3. O’Connor DB, Wilding S, Ferguson E, Cleare S, Wetherall K, McClelland H, et al. Effects of COVID-19-related worry and rumination on mental health and loneliness during the pandemic: longitudinal analyses of adults in the UK COVID-19 mental health & wellbeing study. J Ment Health [Internet]. 2022;1–12. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2022.2069716
4. India's mental health epidemic: Deteriorating amidst the pandemic [Internet]. Towson University Journal of International Affairs. 2021 [cited 2023Jan9]. Available from: https://wp.towson.edu/iajournal/2021/05/10/indias-mental-health-epidemic-deteriorating-amidst-the-pandemic/
5. Khandelwal SK, Jhingan HP, Ramesh S, Gupta RK, Srivastava VK. India mental health country profile. Int Rev Psychiatry [Internet]. 2004;16(1–2):126–41. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540260310001635177
6. 5 charts that reveal how India sees mental health [Internet]. World Economic Forum. [cited 2023Jan9]. Available from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/5-charts-that-reveal-how-india-sees-mental-health/
7. Harvard Health. [cited 2023Jan9]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/mental-health
8. Thelwell K. What you need to know about mental health in India [Internet]. The Borgen Project. Kim Thelwell https://borgenproject.org/wp-content/uploads/logo.jpg; 2019 [cited 2023Jan9]. Available from: https://borgenproject.org/mental-health-in-india/
9. Garg K, Kumar CN, Chandra PS. Number of psychiatrists in India: Baby steps forward, but a long way to go. Indian J Psychiatry [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Jan 23];61(1):104–5. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_7_18
10. Rana R. The Mental Health Epidemic: About 56 million Indians suffer from depression [Internet]. The Logical Indian. The Logical Indian; 2021 [cited 2023Jan9]. Available from: https://thelogicalindian.com/mentalhealth/mental-health-indians-30811
11. Singh UA. Disentangling India’s mental health distress: Does India have the resources to control the impending mental health crisis? [Internet]. Research Matters. 2020 Available from: https://researchmatters.in/news/disentangling-india%E2%80%99s-mental-health-distress-does-india-have-resources-control-impending-mental
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