The World Health Organisation (WHO) has ranked unipolar depressive disorders as the third leading cause of the global burden in 2004 and it will move into the first place by 2030 beating heart attack, Vijayawada Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Science (VIMHANS) Chief Psychiatrist Vishal Indla.

Celebrating the World Mental Health Day at the institute here on Wednesday Dr Vishal said the world woke up to the importance of mental health and today the WHO had also announced that there was “no health without mental health”.

But medical care was still not available to the mentally ill in a large and populous country like India. People were still very superstitious about the mentally ill and they were taken to local exorcists for treatment.

Dr Vishal said that there was also an acute shortage of psychiatrists in the country. While there was one psychiatrist for population of 1,000 in developed countries the number was one for a population of four lakh in the country. Psychiatrist under training Manjari Despande welcomed the gathering.

Vijayawada Central MLA Malladi Vishnu lauded the services of VIMHANS to the people of Krishna district and Coastal Andhra.

The MLA said that he would take the various issues related to the treatment of the mentally ill and IPC section 306 in which cases were being booked on those who attempt suicide to the government.

VIMHANS founder and director Indla Ramasubba Reddy said the booking of cases on those who attempt suicide was unscientific, inhuman to the point of cruel.

The related legislation should be changed. Dr Reddy said there were several welfare schemes for the mentally ill, on the lines of those for the physically challenged, but the people were not getting the benefit because of their poor implementation.

The acute shortage of trained personnel was the primary cause for the poor implementation.

Veteran journalist and newspaper columnist Andavalli Satyanarayana said that Dr Reddy did a great service to the people of the city by setting up a practice here.

He said the services of Dr Vishal who heads a research institute was also invaluable. Prices were given away to a few patients who participated in a painting competition conducted on the occasion of Mental Health Day.