Mental illness needs proper treatment and not swept under the carpet, says President Ram Nath Kovind
New Delhi, Nov 2 (IBNS): President Ram Nath Kovind, on Thursday, inaugurated the 21st World Congress of Mental Health, in New Delhi.
The Congress has been organised by the World Federation for Mental Health in partnership with Caring Foundation and other institutions.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the World Congress of Mental Health is taking place in India for the first time.
"Mental health issues are acquiring a serious magnitude in our country. Our National Mental Health Survey 2016 found that close to 14 per cent of India’s population required active mental health interventions," the President said.
The President noted that those living in metropolitan cities and those who are young – whether in the productive age group, or children and teenagers – are most vulnerable to mental illnesses.
"In India, we have a young population, with 65 per cent of our people below the age of 35. And our society is rapidly urbanising. This leaves us staring at a possible mental health epidemic", he said.
The President said that the biggest obstacle that mental health patients have to encounter is stigma and denial, which results in the issue being ignored or simply not discussed.
"We need to talk about mental health issues and treat ailments such as depression and stress as diseases that can be cured – not as guilty secrets that must be pushed under the carpet," the President said.
President Kovind pointed out that a major gap in combating the mental health challenge is that of human resources.
India is a country with 1.25 billion people but just 700,000 doctors – less than one million.
In the field of mental health, the scarcity is even more acute. There are only about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists in India, President Kovind said.
The President said that India’s National Mental Health Programme is building 22 centres of excellence in the field of mental health.
In parallel, the District Mental Health Programme has already covered 517 of the approximately 650 districts in India.
The President expressed happiness that the World Congress will have sessions on yoga, meditation and traditional approaches to mental health.
He said that the example of yoga is very instructive.
President Kovind looked forward to feedback on the deliberations of the special session planned on the role of yoga in battling anxiety and depression – and in preventing the onset of mental health problems.
"When people talk about yoga, they generally refer to its physiological benefits. However, the mental, psychological, and cognitive benefits of yoga are equally worthy of our study. It is vital to tap into our wealth of traditional knowledge and link its learning to modern research on mental health," he said.