Special Correspondent

Central-aided programme expected to be operational by June The mental health care programme has been extended to Wayanad district

KOZHIKODE: A sum of Rs.26 lakh has been allotted for the activities in the first year for the mental health care programme funded by the Central Government that has been extended to Wayanad district.

The project launched recently in Kannur and Idukki districts is of special significance to Wayanad where the suicide rate has been high among farmers and since services of psychiatrists are not available in the Government sector there.

Dr Krishna Kumar, Director of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Imhans), Government Hospital for Mental Health, Kozhikode, who is in charge of the project, said the appointment of staff would be done by June.

The programme was expected to be operational in June. Imhans in Kozhikode is the nodal agency for the Wayanad programme. Under this, a team comprising a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist social worker and staff nurse will visit 10-15 selected Government health centres (community health centres and taluk hospitals) in the district once a month.

Free medicines

The patients will be provided free medicines. Imhans is planning to associate voluntary agencies in this programme and in rehabilitation activities associated with these centres, Dr. Krishna Kumar said.

Psychiatrists define health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.

Doctors say, however, that this definition underscores the importance of mental and social health.

But there is a growing feeling that mental health is not given adequate importance by the public.

It is not covered in most of the Government-sponsored health programmes either, they say..

It is also a fact that the limited number of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are largely concentrated in urban areas, whether in Government or private sector.

Because of these reasons, the Central Government's programme to improve the mental health services in the country is welcomed by psychiatrists.

The programme of the Central Government is based on a model developed by NIMHANS, Bangalore, which did a pilot programme of this kind in Karnataka.

This model was later found to be suitable for the whole country.

It was implemented in a few districts in the Ninth Plan period.

Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram were in the programme in this phase.

In the 10th plan, the districts of Kannur, Idukki were involved. Recently, the programme was sanctioned for Wayanad district.

It is a fully Centrally sponsored programme launched in accordance with the objectives of the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), Dr. Krishna Kumar said.