Shortage of psychiatrists to treat children: Azad

Shortage of psychiatrists to treat children: Azad

About 12 per cent children in the age group 4-16 suffer from psychiatric disorders but there is a shortage of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists to treat them, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said.

Studies from Asia have shown that 10-20 per cent of children and adolescents have significant mental health problems which in turn affects their functioning, he noted.

In India, about 12 per cent children aged between 4 to 16 years suffer from psychiatric disorders, the Minister said.

"There are 43 government-run mental hospitals and institutions in 22 provinces of the country and 381 medical colleges have psychiatry departments but the availability of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is a major concern and there is an urgent need to address this shortfall,"  he said.

The Central Government has revised and focused on two major components of the National Mental Health Programme in the 11th five year plan - manpower development through establishing centres of excellence and PG training departments and district mental health programmes.

The Minister said the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, which has been introduced in Parliament to replace the old Mental Health Act, 1987 will bring about a paradigm shift in the area of mental health.

The Mental Health Care Bill is currently being examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

While inaugurating the 7th Congress of Asian Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professionals, he said the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore which has now become an "Institution of National Importance", will mentor and support Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.

The services will be started at six new AIIMS and the Centres of Excellence under National Mental Health programme.

The three-day conference is being attended by 110 foreign delegates from 24 countries, as well as leading doctors and psychiatrists from India. This is the first time that the conference is being held in India.