The Health and Family Welfare Department will soon start rehabilitation centres for people with mental illness in all district hospitals, Health and Family Welfare Minister U.T. Khader said on Thursday.

He told presspersons here that the move follows recommendations from the Karnataka State Mental Health Task Force and the Karnataka State Mental Health Authority. “As of now, people with mental illness have to visit NIMHANS or Dharwad Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences for treatment and rehabilitation. We want to start one centre in every district to ensure that none with mental illness goes without medical care,” he said.

The government will appoint psychiatrists and counsellors to run these centres. “The proposal is to have in-patient facilities apart from day care. As most people hesitate to approach a psychiatrist, the centres will also work towards propagating the concept of positive mental health through psychoeducation,” the Minister said.

Although independent surveys had indicated that 14 per cent of the population in Karnataka needs mental health services, the Health Department had not got any survey done so far, he said.

More ambulances

The government will soon upgrade its fleet of Arogya Kavacha ambulances by adding 198 more vehicles.

Mr. Khader said the idea was to provide one ambulance for every 50,000 people. “As of now, we have 517 ambulances (one vehicle for every 1 lakh population). We had requested the Union government to give us more vehicles to ensure that no medical emergency goes unattended. The Centre has promised to soon give us 100 vehicles and we have decided to buy 98 from the State fund,” he said.

Besides, 150 old vehicles among the 517 would be replaced with new ones. This would be done in a phased manner, he said.