Summary – The Right to Mental Health – The Indian Express

Practice Question:

Q.1. Mental health has been a challenge not only in India but on a global scale. What are the challenges faced by the mentally ill people? What actions must be taken to improve the situation? – 250 words


Authors: Vikram Patel and Shekhar Saxena


Mental health is the most valued asset we have, the most treasured aspect of our humanity. Mental health is extremely important as we rely on the diverse capabilities our mental health underpins to successfully learn and master the skills that make our lives meaningful and worthwhile. However, mental health is a neglected cause worldwide including in India.

Mental health conditions globally:

The medical journal, Lancet, publishes a report by its Commission on Global Mental Health. As per this report, mental ill health is on the rise worldwide, and this causes:

  • massive amount of disability,
  • early deaths, and
  • fuels cycles of poverty
  • human rights abuses
  • discrimination

Most people with mental health problems do not receive adequate care, which prolongs suffering and leads to colossal societal and economic losses.

Mental health conditions in India:

The situation in India is on par with amongst the worst country-level mental health indicators in the world. The challenges that India faces are following:

  • Suicide rates as leading cause of death among young people.
  • blatant promotion of alcohol use.
  • lack of a public health approach
  • Horrific conditions of mental hospitals
  • Under-nutrition
  • Neglect that affects the development of the brain in childhood.
  • Lack of community-based mental health services in the country.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also have specific references to mental health and substance use as targets within the health goal.

Blueprint for action:

  • Our approach to mental health must cover its full spectrum, from day-to-day wellness to long-term, disabling conditions.
  • Because our experiences in childhood and adolescence shape our mental health for life, it is crucial that these years unfold in nurturing environments, which promote mental health and prevent mental disorders.
  • Mental health should be respected as a fundamental right by putting people living with mental health problems at the centre of planning services.

Course of action:

  • Mental health services must be scaled up as an essential component of universal health coverage.
  • Barriers and threats to mental health, such as the pervasive impact of stigma, must be assertively addressed.
  • Mental health must be protected by public policies and developmental efforts led by the country’s top leadership.
  • New opportunities such as innovative use of community health workers and digital technologies to deliver a range of mental health interventions must be embraced.
  • Substantial additional investments must be urgently made as the economic and health case for increased investments in mental health is strong.
  • More efficient use of existing resources, for example, through the redistribution of budgets from large hospitals to district hospitals and community-based local services.
  • Investments in research and innovation must harness diverse disciplines to advance understanding of the causes of mental disorders and develop more effective interventions to prevent and treat them.
  • More efficient implementation of diverse legislation and programmes, like the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram to the Mental Health Care Act by providing a robust policy foundation.
  • Partnership of a diverse range of groups — from the mental health and development communities to policy makers and civil society

Mental health must be aligned with the central principle of ‘leave no one behind’.

Read the full article at The Indian Express.