The importance of mental health and its contribution to the overall wellbeing of individuals and society at large were stressed at the inauguration of a workshop on ‘Strengthening district mental health programme with public health approaches and strategies for psychiatrists today,” held on Monday

“Tamil Nadu is the only State that has at least one psychiatrist in each district, something unique when compared to other States,” said C.Ramasubramanian, Nodal Officer for Mental Health Programmes in Tamil Nadu.

Dr.Ramasubramian also elaborated on how the State was in the forefront as far as initiatives concerning mental health are concerned, and said the Government Rajaji Hospital would soon get a 10-bed exclusive psychiatric ward.

“Our biggest project now is a psychiatric hospital at Erwadi which will have 100 beds and can handle 7,000 patients a day,” he added.

S.Paranjothi, Director of Medical and Rural Health Services, emphasised the importance of the availability of proper treatment with social rehabilitation in place.

“Around 65 people out of every 1,000 in our country have problems related to mental health. We must create an awareness among people to reduce the social stigma attached to mental health problems,” Dr.Paranjothi added.

The importance of counselling at every stage of life — at schools, colleges and workplaces, and at the time of marriage — was discussed by P.Ananthan, Joint-Director of Health Services.

‘Assessment of Disability in Psychiatry,’ a book written by Dr.Ramasubramanian, was released on the occasion.

The two-day workshop, organised by the District Mental Health Programme of Tamil Nadu and Centre for Public Health, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, brought together representatives from all districts in the State to discuss strategies in improving facilities and programmes connected to mental health.