380 Psychiatrists for 190M Population: Food for Thought

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According to WHO’s data of 2009, the mental health expenditure is 0.40% of all the healthcare facilities and the expenditures allotted specifically for the mental health hospitals is 11% of the total expenditures pertaining to the mental health services. In a country where only 380 trained psychiatrists are available for a population of 189.87 million, a total of 10-16% suffers from mental illnesses. Therefore, the ratio of psychiatrists to patients for mental health care comes out to be 1 psychiatrist for 500,000 patients.

mental illnesses

You know what is more bewildering than this? How many of us actually gather the courage to visit the one psychiatrist fated to us? Hardly 22% (42M out of 190M).

We are stigmatized when it comes to realizing and accepting the incidence of mental disorders. We are scared of the stereotypes which will traumatize us more than the reasons we are suffering from depression and anxiety. Parents are scared because their relatives will refer to their beloved as pagal (mad) and abnormal.

Maybe at some level, to fight off the stereotypes we live in but the prejudices crawling their way through our disguised social life are enough to hang our souls to death. We easily discriminate between people belonging to any particular group or faction of society. In this kind of an environment, it is not too difficult to label schizophrenics, anxious, depressed patients without any close medical assessment.

In this crumbling situation of the mental healthcare, more than the infrastructural change, we need awareness. It is a small word that encompasses an umbrella of ideas. It has:

  • Power to change our attitudes towards mental health.
  • Potential to influence our stereotypes against mentally ill people.
  • Prospect to overcome discrimination against those in need of attention.

Any campaign aimed at creating awareness first establish itself strongly in educating our misconceptions and myths. If you feel strongly in the pursuit of our goals towards empowering mental health care with education, follow the series of MARHAM’s blogs on learning the common names of mental disorders and how to effectively build yourselves as a wall against them.

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Norin Chaudhry

The writer is a PhD in the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, at Iowa State University in the lab of Gustavo C. MacIntosh.

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