National Mental Health Survey of Punjab
There are approximately 21.9 lakh patients (more than 18 years) in Punjab suffering from mental illness. Out of them, only 4.38 lakh (20%) have access to treatment and rest are not getting any treatment. One of the various reasons of high treatment gap include limited treatment facilities. Punjab just have 127 psychiatrists in the state.
It has been recommended since there is a high treatment gap, awareness about safe and effective treatment of mental disorders should be created. The staff available with the health department (ASHA workers, ANM and Anganwari workers) can be engaged with small financial incentives.
The findings of the National Mental Health Survey were released here today on the occasion of World Health Day. The survey was conducted in the state of Punjab between August 2015 – April 2016 was released here today. The survey was conducted by the Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh in collaboration with National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.
This was a part of National Mental Health Survey which was simultaneously conducted in 12 other states of the country and was funded by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. This is one of the most accurate surveys ever conducted in this country as this survey used the best methodology and involved data collection using hand-held devices (tablets) instead of pen and paper interview. The survey was conducted in 4 districts of Punjab (Faridkot, Ludhiana, Moga and Patiala) and 2895 individuals who were randomly selected were interviewed.
Department of Psychiatry, GMC&H -32 conducted a workshop for dissemination of the report at Government Rehabilitation Institute for Intellectual Disability (GRIID) Sector 31, where Dr. BS Chavan, Professor & Head, Department of Psychiatry, GMC&H, opened the session with introduction about the menace of depression and how it affects everybody’s lives. Others who spoke on the occasion were Dr. Rohit Garg, Assistant Professor , Department of Psychiatry , Government Medical College & Hospital ,Patiala and Dr. Shivangi Mehta , Assistant Professor , Department of Psychiatry , GMCH.
It has been stated that Punjab Government should create a specialist cadre in the state health services so that psychiatrists can join the state health services and they are posted at district and CHC levels, adding, each district hospital of Punjab should have 10 bed psychiatry unit for acute mental health crisis and emergencies.
All the medical officers and other health care staff must be provided orientation training in mental health and this can be achieved through training budget provided under the DMHP budget and to ensure availability of essential psychotropic drugs at district hospital and CHC around the year.
In contrast to the findings from other states of India, the population staying in the villages has high prevalence of mental disorders than urban population (14.67% Vs 11.48%). In addition to mental disorders, drugs have penetrated into the village youth. This is a cause of worry for the state of Punjab. Approx 0.5% of them had suicidal risk and since many of them are farmers, the suicide among farmers is going to be a major challenge for the new government. Another major finding of the survey includes high rates of mental disorders among persons above 60 years, persons with low income, widowed, divorced and separated persons. There is urgent need to put in place special services for vulnerable group.