Andhra Pradesh

Include mental health in UN millennium goals: expert

“It is sad that mental health is often found to have been missing from our public debates, despite the fact that it is most critical for the well-being of society,” says Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, Secretary General of the Geneva-based World Psychiatric Association (WPA).

Talking to The Hindu, Dr. Kallivayalil, who is the first Asian to assume the coveted WPA post, stressed the need to include mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations as part of its post-2015 Millennium Development Goals to be finalised soon.

According to him, mental illness contributes to nearly a quarter of all the disability in the world. An estimated 450 million people are suffering from mental illness.

WHO stance

Dr. Kallivayalil said the World Health Organisation too had embraced the fact that mental health was a crucial prerequisite for sustainable human development and there could be no health without mental health.

He said the WPA proposed a specific target for mental health in the SDGs, namely the provision of mental and physical health and social care services for people with mental disorders in parity with resources for addressing physical health. The SDGs should ensure a minimum 20 per cent increase in service coverage for people with severe mental disorders by 2020.The WPA also proposed an increase in mental health investment.

Dr. Kallivayalil said 30 per cent of the Indian population have emotional problems and 33 per cent of them required expert care while the remaining could be managed by the primary care and family physicians. He said India with a 1.3 billion population had only 5,000 psychiatrists, which means one psychiatrist for every 2.8 lakh population. India’s minimum target should be one psychiatrist for every one lakh population. The total number of postgraduate seats for psychiatry in India is only 400 and this should be increased to 1000, he said.

‘Compulsory subject’

The WPA Secretary General stressed the need for making psychiatry a compulsory subject for MBBS course in India. Though the Union Health Ministry had favourably considered his representation in this regard in 2011, the matter was pending with the Indian Medical Association for approval. He said such a move would also facilitate a better patient-doctor communication. General physicians learning essential skills in the diagnosis and management of various mental disorders like anxiety, depression, etc, could avoid a lot of unnecessary problems for the common people, he added.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 1:00:31 am |