Mental health neglected, multinational partnerships needed: Azad

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Thursday pointed out that over six percent of Indians suffer from mental disorders and said there was a need to develop multinational partnerships to address the problem.

“Unfortunately, there is still stigma attached towards people with mental illness and epilepsy within society,” Azad said addressing a three-day conference ‘Building Partnership in Community Mental Health’ here.

“Public education and efforts to change the attitude of the general population towards persons with mental illness and epilepsy need to be carried out,” he said.

He also highlighted that early identification and intervention can contribute to effective treatment.

“Considering the available evidence that six to seven percent of the population in India suffers from common mental disorders and one to two percent of the population suffers from severe mental disorders, and the fact that globally it is estimated that the burden of mental disorders will increase to 15 percent by 2020 there is need to develop multinational partnerships to address this problem,” he said.

The conference is aimed at developing a set of common principles of partnerships in community mental health, while also highlighting the best practices of partnerships across network countries.

“We recognise that mental health is a neglected area where awareness is low even among the health professionals. In recent years, we have given a lot of attention to the issue of mental health in India and have increased the allocation of resources for the programme more than six times for our current five year plan,” he said.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the Asia Pacific region has close to half of the world’s approximate 450 million people affected by mental illness.

Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, substance abuse and dementia contribute more to global disease burden than the cancer or cardiovascular disease.

WHO has projected that by the year 2030, mental disorders will be one of the leading causes of the global disease burden.

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