Three-day International Conference on Schizophrenia inaugurated

The Union government has allotted more funds for mental health and launched modernisation of mental health institutions, Union Minister of State for Social Justice D. Napoleon said on Friday.

Inaugurating the fourth edition of the three-day International Conference on Schizophrenia (IConS 2010) organised by the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), Mr. Napoleon said improvement of facilities was being undertaken to meet the increasing demand for psychiatric assistance.

While mental illness was for long not getting due attention and social stigma was preventing people from accessing treatment, the situation had changed now and more people were seeking professional help.

Noting that though mental illness was recognised as a disability and included in the Persons With Disabilities Act, the Minister said the welfare measures intended for the disabled sections were not reaching the mentally challenged. He hoped that IDEAS, a tool for measuring mental disability that was developed with key inputs from SCARF, would help improve this situation.

Offering felicitations, Shekhar Saxena, Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organisation, said the WHO, which was very choosy about co-sponsoring events, had partnered with SCARF because of the organisation's unique identity of combining dedicated action with knowledge generation. The conference was an occasion to support and learn and evolve benefits to mental health all over the world, he said.

Helen Herrman, Secretary for Publications, World Psychiatric Association, said as a body representing a quarter of a million psychiatrists, the Association was in the process of evolving Best Practices for service users in psychiatric care.

An important reason for continuing to partner with SCARF was its emphasis on human rights, respect and dignity of the people it worked with — a central ingredient for success in improving mental health.

Ajit Avasti, president, Indian Psychiatric Society, said the Society was in the process of establishing a research and education foundation.

R. Thara, SCARF Director, said the success of IConS could be attributed to the generous help, spontaneous and unsolicited, from across the world.

R. Seshasayee, SCARF president, and Dinesh Bhugra, president, Royal College of Psychiatrists, participated.

The World Psychiatric Association, Indian Psychiatric Society and Douglas Hospital, Canada, are supporting the conference.