Srinagar: Strange it may seem but the federal government has no records or any idea about the number of people suffering from mental disorders in the country. Though the Union Minister of state for health said that the data of people affected by mental health issues is not maintained centrally, the data is not being compiled at the state level also.
Notably, as per the World Health Organisation’s Report ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders – Global Health Estimates’ released in 2017, the estimated prevalence of depressive disorders in India is 4.5 per cent of the total population.
However, as per the National Mental Health Survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru in 12 states of the country, the prevalence of depressive disorders in India is estimated to be 2.7 per cent of the total population.
This being a reason for alarm, the governments- both at the federal as well as the state level in our state have not prepared enough to address this serious issue. In our state 1.8 million (45%) adults have a significant symptoms of mental distress, approximately 1.6 million adults (41%) are living with significant symptoms of depression, and 415,000 (10%) population meets all the diagnostic criteria for severe depression.
But amazingly Kashmir Valley has just six psychiatrists posted in various districts to cater to this huge numbers.
Though the government has sanctioned 9 positions of psychiatrists but on ground only six are available as three posts have not been filled as yet. Data available states that there are as less as 9 sanctioned posts out of which 3 posts are lying vacant.
What is worrisome is that an estimated 1 million adults (26%) in the valley are living with significant symptoms of an anxiety related disorder. Nearly 1 in 5 adults (19%) or 771,000 individuals in the Valley are living with significant PTSD symptoms, with 248,000 (6%) meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. These details are surfaced through a survey conducted by ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)’ 2015.
The study conducted in 2015, has covered all the 10 districts of Kashmir valley with a response rate of 97.7 per cent, which is regarded as quite high.
Further, high rates of co-morbidity of symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD were found in adults living in the valley.
But what is missing on ground is the government’s failure to address this crisis like situation. Mental health is of prime concern in the developed world where the incidence of metal diseases is very low, however in a place like Kashmir the issue has escaped our planners as well as health experts.
Kashmir Valley has just one Mental Health Institute in Srinagar. The hospital too is complaining shortage of staff besides other lacunae’s.
On an average, an adult living in Kashmir Valley has witnessed or experienced 7.7 traumatic events during his lifetime, This shows how all important mental healthcare is in a place ridden with conflict, but all this will take our planners lot of time to understand.