Depression is a major public health and social problem which needs pro-active intervention at primary care level, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has said.
Announcing the launch of Aashwasam, a Health Department project to tackle depression at primary care level on the occasion of World Health Day here on Friday, Ms. Shylaja said primary health centres would evolve as the first reference point for all health issues of the population.
Depression clinics will initially be opened in 170 PHCs which are being converted as family health centres in the first phase of the Government’s Comprehensive Primary Health Care Programme under the Aardram Mission. Health workers and staff nurses, who have been given training in psycho-social counselling and in screening for depression, will go into the community to pick up cases early, which will be referred to the PHCs.
Trained medical officers will scrutinise these cases and initiate treatment or refer to clinics of the District Mental Health Programme or the psychiatric units at taluk hospitals.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran; poet B. Sugathakumari; Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Sadanandan; Secretary, State Mental Health Authority, K. P. Jayaprakashan; State Nodal Officer, Mental Health Programme, P.S. Kiran; and Head of Psychiatry, Medical College, Anil Prabhakar; among others, spoke
Various awareness programmes were also organised in the city on the World Health Day based on the theme of the day ‘Depression : Let’s Talk.’
The Indian Medical Association, Indian Psychiatric Society, and the city branch of the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association organised a walkathon from Kowdiar to Kanakakkunnu.
A vehicle rally was flagged off from Kanakakkunnu grounds by Rajeev Sadanandan.
Street plays were held in various parts of the city to spread awareness of how depression was a treatable disease.
Doctors and psychiatrists participated in a panel discussion on Depression at Museum radio park in the evening.
IMA Thiruvananthapuram president John Panicker said that year-long programmes would be organised by he IMA to create awareness of depression amongst the public.
Pallium India opened a library on its premises, named after the eminent psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, whose seminal work, On Death and Dying is considered to be one of the best psychiatric studies in the past century. Former Chief Secretary S.M. Vijayanand inaugurated it.
The Regional Cancer Centre organised a panel discussion on Depression and Cancer in connection on the day. The programme was inaugurated by RCC Director Paul Sebastian. Anil Prabhakar, Head of Psychiatry, Medical College; Paul Augustine, Additional Professor of Surgical Oncology, RCC; and V. Prashanth, Palliative Care medical Officer, RCC; spke.