Revision Article – Mental Health.

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  • India is the most depressed country in the world, according to a recent World Health Organisation, followed by China and the USA.
  • A study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2015 shows that one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime, equivalent to 200 million people.
  • The number of people are affected by mental health issues in India is greater than the entire population of Japan.
  • At least 6.5 per cent of the Indian population suffers from some form of the serious mental disorder, with no discernible rural-urban differences.
  • The average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh people and the majority of people who commit suicide are below 44 years of age.

Challenges in solving mental health issues:

  • Stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Lack of awareness – According to the National Mental Health Survey (NHMS) of India, 2016, India spends less than 1% of its entire health budget on mental health. 92% of people in need of mental health care do not have access to any form of mental health care.
  • Limited access to professional help – There is an extreme shortage of mental health workers like psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors. India has just about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists.
  • According to the NMHS survey, people in the lower income group suffer more from mental health problems and these are the people with least access to mental health treatment.
  • India’s children and youth are more stressed and suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and performance issues more than ever before.
  • Wide intra-state (rural and urban) and inter-state disparities in the availability of resources and mental health professionals.

Legislative framework:

  • Under the Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017, universal mental health care is now a justiciable right.
  • The MHCA mandates the government to provide accessible, affordable, acceptable and high quality mental health care by integrating mental health-care services; to establish mental health facilities in proportion to the population in each State, and providing free mental health-care to socio-economically deprived sections of the population; Implement mental health promotion and preventive programmes to create awareness about the MHCA using public media.

Way forward:

  • Web-based online portals such as the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) to reach out to its vast population.
  • More affordable treatment options are required.
  • Affordable rehabilitation centers like the National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR)
  • Mental health awareness campaigns are the need of the hour.
  • Appropriate budgetary provisions.
  • Setting up of State and district mental health authorities and review boards.
  • Removal of stigma associated with mental health by talking freely about them and sensitizing the population (especially children) about them.


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