Srinagar: Around 1.8 million people in Kashmir, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the valley’s adult population, show significant symptoms of mental distress, a survey by ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ has said.
Of these, 1.6 million adults (41 percent) in the valley are living with symptoms of depression, with 4, 15,000 meeting the diagnostic criteria for severe depression.
“An estimated one million adults (26 percent) in the valley are living with significant symptoms of anxiety-related disorders,” said the survey.
The study by the medical humanitarian organisation ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ or Doctors without Borders was done in collaboration with the Department of Psychology, Kashmir University, and the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) in Kerala.
The survey said nearly one in five (19 percent) adults in Kashmir is living with significant PTSD (Post-Traumatic stress Disorder) symptoms, representing 7,71,000 individuals, with 2,48,000(6 percent) meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
“This survey provides, for the first time, an insight into the level of mental distress in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley,” says Dr Tambri Housen, MSF’s principal researcher.
He said the data will come in handy to work with key stakeholders and mental health experts to tailor healthcare services to the needs of the Kashmir residents. The survey covered 5,428 households in 399 villages across 10 districts and was complemented by a series of in-depth focus group discussions.
According to the survey, communities have little knowledge of mental health services and viewed the management of mental illness largely through socio-cultural and biomedical models.
The survey emphasised employment generation, decentralisation of services, community awareness programmes, early detection and availability of medical services for improved mental health.
“One crucial outcome of the focus group discussions held in each district was a clear gap in accessibility to mental health services. The main barrier to treatment included lack of awareness of available mental health services. Other commonly mentioned obstacles included distance, travel time and associated costs,” said a MSF statement.