The problem with India’s mental health care system is that, people hardly acknowledge it and if they do, they make it seem like a sign madness or weakness. The stigma is what causes only 10-15% of the mentally ill to come forward and ask for help, even lack of awareness and education plays a big role in the amount of treatment taken for mental health.
India seems to have the same problem as Ghana and other West African countries. Instead of turning to doctors and mental health facilities, people turn to religious treatments, temples and shrines, thinking blaming evil spirits for this madness instead of healing the mind and body. The bigger problem India faces is lack of treatment, studies show there is one psychiatrist for every 3 lakh people, considering India’s humungous population. Out of ten people, only one person is treated in India. “Mental health services are very low-resourced in India with just one percent of the total health budget being spent on it”, said Pratap Sharan, professor in the department of psychiatry, AIIMS. This obviously suggests that India’s mentally ill facilities are definitely inadequate and insufficient to treat patients with great care.
Though there is some progress in metropolitan cities, it happens to be very slow and dragged along. Even if there are few treatment centres, they are completely inadequate, unsanitary, and do not have enough resources or good medication, and in some cases even violent towards the patient.
There have been leaked photos of bound men curled up naked on the floor from the West Bengal state run mental hospital called Berhampore.
India is suffering from a mental health crisis, whether we like it or not, and the crisis seems to be increasing as the years go by because the conditions aren’t improving. India has only 43 government-run mental hospitals for 1.2 Billion of a population. From every source analyzed, one thing is clear – stereotypes and stigma are one of the biggest obstruction in India for getting adequate mental health treatment and of course, the state of mental hospitals because most of the funds are being used elsewhere instead of where they are actually supposed to be used.
Mumbai’s having a population of 12 million people, there happen to be only around 300 beds for the mentally ill. Recent research shows that the only mental hospital at the moment in Mumbai doesn’t even have beds, lighting or mental health professionals. Some say that one of the reasons for this is that the cost of mental hospitals and the revenue generated don’t go ‘hand in hand’ which causes an economic problem for the country. It seems to be a very difficult job to sustain a hospital. Mumbai is working on bringing two new mental facilities though, hoping they will be adequate, safe, and will have excellent mental health professionals.
The fact that people still use religious ways to cure brain disorders shocks me. What also is a little disturbing was the history of types of treatments and ways they employed to cure these disorders, like prefrontal lobotomy or electroshock convulsive therapy. I hope that mental health care is given more importance and significance, because mental disabilities are as bad as physical ones, and just because they’re invisible doesn’t mean they do not exist. Mental health facilities need to be equipped with good medication and staff so that the patient can be cured to the full extent of what has been discovered by scientists. For this particular problem, everything from poverty to inequality plays a vital role, so we should be focusing on all of it as well.