Mental Health

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” – WHO (2004)

  • Introduction
  • Challenge
  • Solution
  • Limitation

“Lifetime prevalence of mental illness is around 13.7% and contributed to 31% of the years lived with a disability” (National Mental Health Survey-2016).

“63 million people being pushed into poverty each year due to health care costs—2 every second” – (Oxfam)

With its 1.3 billion population India has huge varying economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies, and political systems within the country. Income, Education and Gender has been the most identified cause of inequity in healthcare in this country.

With 80% of healthcare in India being delivered by the private sector, the affordability of mental healthcare has always been a challenge. Mental healthcare is less accessible to people with lower income and education levels and to women.

To worsen the problem, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing social inequities and one of the collateral damage is compromised mental health care. From this pandemic, estimates indicate that poverty, unemployment, homelessness, starvation is likely to double which can be a huge psychosocial stressor increasing the vulnerability to all forms of mental illness. Also, there is a visible increase in the incidence of depression, anxiety, substance abuse bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia.

There is a 20% increase in reports of mental illness during the nationwide lockdown. Access to mental healthcare is also disproportionately affected. Government hospitals in India have shut down elective services including outpatient consultation, psychotherapy, psychiatric social work, elective admissions during the lockdown period. Patients below the poverty line (BPL) who had access to free or subsidized care from government hospitals have run out of psychotropic medication, with an increase in drug discontinuation and related relapses. Visits to mental health centers have dropped between 20% and 50% – another indicator of a barrier to mental healthcare. Among consumers, women, older adults, and rural dwellers find it harder to access mental healthcare due to constraints.

  • Remodeling healthcare using Tele-psychiatry.
  • Free medications delivered to the doorstep of the underserved population.
  • Targeted interventions for vulnerable populations.

NeuroZone has started Tele-Psychiatry and Tele-Psychology to help mental health patients access healthcare at the comfort of their house.

Despite 50% increase in internet consumption, the National Digital Literacy Mission estimates digital illiteracy in India may be as high as 90%. Only 22% of mobile phone users utilize the internet on their phones. Tele-psychiatry, therefore, is a great challenge.