India accounts for 28% of global suicides, reports a recent study conducted by Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS) and World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH).
According to the study, about half of the population is neither aware of mental health issues nor has access to a mental health facility within a 20km radius, reports The Times of India.
The independent study was conducted across seven north Indian states, including 10,233 individuals in urban and rural areas across 175 districts of UP, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
About 43% of the respondents had a family member or friend with mental illness. While 48% had a person with a known addiction in their family or among friends, 59% had no de-addiction service near their house, posing a challenge to access treatment, showed the survey.
“The lack of facilities or access to care raises practical issues for care-givers facilitating treatment for persons with mental illnesses who feel there is a disconnect between the ground reality and government policies,” says Dr Sunil Mittal, senior psychiatrist & director of World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH).
According to the National Mental Health Survey (2016), the lifetime prevalence of mental illness in India is estimated at 13.7% with over 150 million patients in need of active intervention.
The study also points to the lack of private sector participation in creating facilities for treatment of mental illness. Only 8% were aware that health insurance covered such a disorder. Further, the study showed that 28% did not consider suicide to be associated with mental illness and therefore did not seek intervention.
“Availability of facilities has been an issue, and an overwhelming 87% of individuals favoured the use of technology to try to bridge this divide by using mobile phones, apps and tele-medicine,” says Srishti Jaju of CIMBS.
The cost of treatment appeared to be a significant deterrent in accessing care as 80% of the patients were found not to have health insurance or thought mental health treatment was not covered. Web platforms have also claimed a surge in the number of patients seeking online consultation for mental illness, says the report.