Having succeeded in getting mental disorders included in the global list of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), India will now push for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level while focusing on allocating “appropriate priority and resources” for mental healthcare in health and development programmes.

India, along with the U.S. and Switzerland, will move a resolution at the ongoing Executive Board meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) at Geneva urging the member States “to develop comprehensive policies and strategies to develop mental health promotion, prevention of disorders, in particular among children and adolescents, support and treatment of persons with mental disorders by promoting human rights, tackling stigma, empowering service users, addressing poverty, and creating opportunities for generating income, providing housing and education as well as providing health care services in the community.”

The resolution calls for collaboration with WHO in the development of an action plan to enable persons with mental disorders live a full and productive life in the community. In this, WHO is called upon to collaborate with member States and appropriate international, regional and national non-governmental organisations, donors and technical agency partners.

The resolution recommends that the proposed action plan should address protection, promotion and respect for the rights of persons with mental disorders, access to quality comprehensive health services that include mental health at all levels of healthcare system with particular focus on deinstitutionalised care and availability of adequate human resources to provide such services equitably.

Among other things, the resolution calls for providing services to promote mental health and prevent mental disorders, including where appropriate, support for parental skills, support to and protection of children in catastrophic situations and in families with severe difficulties, including parents with mental disorders, substance abuse or life threatening diseases.

Like all NCDs

India had been instrumental in getting mental disorders included in the NCDs list at the first ministerial conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Disease Control in Moscow last year. Pleading for its case, India had argued that “like all non-communicable diseases, mental disorders required long-term treatment and affected the quality of life.”

The principal non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases, which are the leading causes of preventable morbidity and disability — accounting for over 60 per cent of global deaths, 80 per cent of which occur in developing countries. By 2030, the NCDs are estimated to contribute to 75 per cent of global deaths.

On its part, India is working towards framing a mental health policy based on internationally accepted guidelines. It will also keep in mind the specific context of mental illness in the country and take into account the draft Mental Health Care Bill, 2010.

A 12-member policy group entrusted to frame the National Mental Health Care Policy and Plan will prepare a situational analysis of the need for mental health care in the country, taking into account the issues of human resources, essential drug procurement and distribution, advocacy, prevention, and rehabilitation of mental health patients.

Keywords: mental disordersWHO