'More resources needed to treat mental illness'

More mobile units and outreach programmes are required to bridge the gap in treating mental health illnesses in the capital, said health experts.

With October 10 being observed as the World Mental Health Day, doctors believe the government needs to come up with cost-effective programmes for treating mental illnesses.

Currently, there are two mobile mental health units (MMHUs) in Delhi. Also, there is a lack of cost-effective ways to treat mental illnesses.

“The existing mobile mental health units are a part of a demonstration project. We have demanded for long now that at least two mobile units are required for each district. If the pilot project is upscaled and we have 22 units, people would know where to seek help,” said Dr Nimesh Desai, Director, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

Though the general notion is people do not seek help out of the stigma associated with mental health problems, lack of knowledge in whom to approach is a major problem.

“Though stigma continues to be a significant problem, gradually more people are overcoming it. The basic problem is people still refuse to recognise mental illness as a health problem. And even if they do, they don’t know where to seek medical help,” said Dr Desai.

IHBAS along with the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) are planning to launch an e-directory for mental health services available in Delhi NCR by the year. This is likely to help patients refer to an organised catalogue in case of a mental health problem.

A study by IHBAS-ICMR for urban mental health problems had found that there is a major treatment gap in treating the most common disorders like depression and anxiety in cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Chennai.

Day to day stress leading to depression forms 13-15 per cent of mental health illnesses.

“We need to adopt an integrated approach in dealing with psychological issues across hospitals. There are less than 4,000 psychiatrists in India,” said Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital.

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