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Mental health treatment boon in Maharashtra

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Around 150 million Indians are living with mental health disorders – but only ten percent can get the treatment that they need. Upgrading facilities as is being done in Maharashtra could be an avenue towards alleviating this shortfall.

Three cities in Maharashtra will benefit from centres of excellence in mental health treatment. 

The centres will be located at regional psychiatric facilities in Nagpur, Pune, and Thane which will be upgraded to offer curricula for students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels concerning mental health issues and their treatment. Tata Trusts is involved in the project, which earned the approval of the Maharashtra cabinet on Monday. The news comes as part of the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), a central government scheme which aims to modernise mental health facilities and strengthen human resources in the sector among other objectives. 

“We are going to start the training courses for psychiatric, psychiatric social work and clinical psychology at these three hospital,” said Dr Sadhana Tayade. “The courses are postgraduate diploma and degree courses that will be started from this year. Considering that there is a dearth of psychiatric nurses, social workers, and clinical psychologists under the NMHP all across the state, we will be doing this.”

The news is welcome against a backdrop of infrastructural and staffing shortfalls resulting in a major treatment gap concerning mental health conditions. Around 150 million Indians are in need of mental healthcare, but the country has just 898 clinical psychologists and 3,800 psychiatrists. Overall, there is a mental health treatment gap of between fifty and seventy percent. 

The human toll is staggering. One person dies by suicide every four minutes in India. Tens of millions are in need of mental health treatment but cannot avail it. As such, any effort to expand access to treatment for mental health conditions comes as a major boon. 

Contact details for mental health support in India can be accessed here. 

If you are suicidal or experiencing suicidal thoughts, visit your nearest hospital or contact AASRA on 91-22-27546669 or Sneha India on 91 44 24640050 helpline. A list of other suicide helplines can be accessed here. 

The WHO report on suicide, “Preventing suicide: a resource for pesticide registrars and regulators”, can be accessed here.

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