Mental health care defies logic in Kashmir


Srinagar: Mental health care reflects an unhealthy picture in Kashmir Valley, especially in rural areas, with only a few clinical psychologists available in various districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, and Budgam.

Official sources are saying that some of the rural areas are even lacking the facility of basic health care, apart from that mental healthcare is suffering badly, with only 4 clinical psychologists available in major districts of Kashmir.

What is pathetic is that districts like Pulwama and Kupwara are completely lacking the facilities of mental health care, with no clinical psychologist available for people.

“In these twin districts the patients are usually referred to Srinagar for any such treatment, if they are in need, or, are referred to the places where the specialists are available,” official sources said.

As per figures, in four major districts of Kashmir which includes Anantnag, Pulwama, Budgam and Kupwara, on an average the patient doctor ratio is pathetically low, with 1 clinical psychologist available for 3500 patients, which, according to officials is far beyond normal.

Pertinently, the recent braid chopping incidents that have occurred in Kashmir, mental health experts are saying that though, people are not coming out for counselling, but they will need it near future, “with the non-availability of specialists, it is only going to add to their miseries,” experts said.

Apart from mental health care, other sectors of health care system are also said to be operating in an appalling condition in rural areas of Kashmir, which is raising serious questions over the efficiency of state’s health care system.

According to official sources, “clinical psychologists are not willing to perform their duties in rural areas, and prefer their postings in Srinagar,” which is against norms of making it imperative for any medical professional to spend their initial years of medical duties in rural areas.

The fact can be understood that when the government formed the teams to study braid chopping in Kashmir—for district Anantnag, Pulwama and Ganderbal—clinical psychologists were not available at respective districts and the victims were brought directly to GMC, Srinagar, “it was done because of the fact that at the district levels the availability of mental health specialists is almost equal to zero,” sources said.

Apart from non availability of specialists, the mental health care over all Kashmir is also lacking the basic infra structural facilities. With valley’s lone Mental Health Institute at Badamwari lacking required staff strength, the hospital authorities have been continuously asking the higher-ups to address the issue. However, so far, the demand has fallen onto the deaf ears, “if this is the condition in Srinagar, one can imagine what will be the scenario in rural areas of Kashmir,” officials said.


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