State of Mental Disorder in India

In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court emphasized the need of bringing sensitivity regarding mental health issues. The court held that the judiciary should not treat the mental health of a person with the approach of “one size fits all”.

This observation came out when the bench of Justices BV Nagaratna and DY Chandrachud was hearing on a matter in an appeal from the Karnataka High Court to quash the decision of the high court to quash the abetment of the suicide against a government officer. In that matter, the driver of the officer committed suicide and left a note alleging that he was subject to harassment by the officer who had used his bank account to transfer the all ill-gotten for converting black money into white.

The court also noted that an individual copes with a threat, both physical and mental, expressing or refraining from expressing love, sorrow, happiness and loss, varies greatly in view of the multi-faceted nature of the human mind and emotions.

  1. As per the recent Lancet Report, one out of seven people in India had faced a mental disorder ranging from mild to severe in the year 2017.
  2. The proportional contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden has seen a rise of more than 100% during the period 1990 and 2017.
  3. This issue was more prevalent in the southern states of India as compared to the northern states because of the varying nature of development, urbanization, modernization and other factors not understood yet.
  4. Cases of depressive disorders were more common among females as compared to males, which could be due to several factors such as gender discrimination, sexual abuse, stress due to antenatal and postnatal issues and other reasons.

Various Measures to address the Mental Health Issues:

  • India needs to reduce the treatment gap for mental disorders,
  • Deploy more manpower in the mental health sector,
  • Need to reduce discriminatory attitudes, and
  • Adopt an integrated approach for detecting, treating, and managing patient needs.
  • More counseling facilities need to be opened, especially in rural areas.
  • Telemedicine and telephone-based helpline numbers and mental health apps could help in the remote areas
  • Community-based programmes should be initiated.
  • School-based programmes required for sensitization on the issue of mental health for children
  • fund allocation should be increased for the treatment of mental health.
  • Residential mental health services, including the community centre, need to be strengthened for good quality mental health care.