SRINAGAR: Another opportunity to do good for its people has been wasted by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. Mental health issues are widespread among the state’s population, but the government has not fully availed the benefits of an MoU it signed with the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), a leading London-based organisation with expertise in mental health care.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the Royal College of Psychiatrists was supposed to provide regular training in various aspects of mental health care to the state’s doctors. However, since 2014, the year when the MoU was signed, the training from the RCP has been availed only three times.
“The facility of training was not provided up to potential and as per its need in the Valley,” Sayeed Aqeel Hussain, facilitator of the RCP’s trainings in the Valley, told Kashmir Reader. “One training was provided to doctors, another to medical students, who were taken to England, and a third to a group of doctors in GMC Srinagar. Apart from this, no work was done.”
Kashmir, as per a report of Doctors Without Borders, has almost half its population suffering from “mental health problems”. Nearly 1.8 million adults – 45 percent of Kashmir’s adult population – suffer from some form of mental distress. A majority of them – 93 percent – have experienced conflict-related trauma.
An average adult in Kashmir was found to have witnessed eight traumatic events during his or her lifetime. More than 70 percent of adults have experienced or witnessed the sudden or violent death of someone they knew.
According to the report, 50 percent of women and 37 percent of men are likely to suffer from depression in Kashmir; 36 percent of women and 21 percent of men have a probable anxiety disorder; and 22 percent of women and 18 percent of men suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I had also proposed to provide crisis training to doctors, but that never saw the light of day. The training given by the RCP trainers could have shown our doctors how to respond to a crisis-like situation,” Hussain added.
After the failure of his proposal, Hussain said, he proposed that school teachers be trained to impart training to students to identify mental issues at an earlier stage. The teachers, after the training, would be able to identify mental health diseases and a group of doctors would treat them. The proposal also includes introduction of topics on mental issues in school textbooks.
“The response received so far is not good. But I am still trying,” Hussain said.
Hussain said that as per the MoU, the government only needs to pay the cost of travel of the trainers who will come from London, not of their boarding and food. He said this is a manageable expense, but still has no takers.
“So far, the JK Bank has refused to sponsor it. They were earlier the main financers of the training. Now I will speak to the director education and see what he says. The action, if any, will follow afterwards,” Hussain added.