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Social Justice

Mental Health and Men

  • 09 Feb 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

As per the data of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, 70% of callers to the ‘Kiran Helpline’, launched in September 2020, were men. Most of the calls have been from young adults.

  • The 24/7 toll-free helpline ‘Kiran’ provides support to people facing anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health concerns.

Key Points

  • Data Analysis:
    • Gender & Mental Health: Out of the 13,550 new calls received, 70.5% were from males and 29.5% from females.
    • Vulnerable Age Group: The majority of callers (75.5%) were in the age group of 15 to 40 years, while 18.1% in the 41 to 60 age group.
    • Major Issues: Majorly the challenges faced by the callers were related to anxiety and depression; while few others included pandemic-related challenges, suicidal tendency, substance abuse and others miscellaneous.
  • Issues Related to Male Mental Health:
    • Traditional Gender Roles: Societal expectations and traditional gender roles play an important role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems.
    • Ignoring Warning Signs: For men, the warning signs of mental disorders include irritability, trouble focusing, tiredness or listlessness, aches and pains, alcohol or drug abuse and more.
    • Lack of Proper Attention: Research on men’s health issues has been given relatively low priority. Due to lack of funding and proper attention, the situation becomes more serious.
    • Increase in Number of Suicides: In 2018, around 250 Indian men took their own lives per day - more than twice the number of women.

Mental Health

  • About:
    • According to the WHO, 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.’
    • Like Physical health, Mental health is also important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
  • Challenges:
    • High Public Health Burden: An estimated 150 million people across India are in need of mental health care interventions, according to India’s latest National Mental Health Survey 2015-16.
    • Lack of Resources: Low proportion of the mental health workforce in India (per 100,000 population) include psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07).
      • Low financial resource allocation of just over a percent of GDP on healthcare has created impediments in public access to affordable mental healthcare.
    • Other Challenges: Poor awareness about the symptoms of mental illness, social stigma and abandonment of mentally ill, especially old and destitute, leads to social isolation and reluctance on part of family members to seek treatment for the patient.
      • This has resulted in a massive treatment gap, which further worsens the present mental illness of a person.
  • Steps Taken by the Government:
    • National Mental Health Program (NMHP):
      • To address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals in the field of mental health, the government has been implementing the National Mental Health Program (NMHP) since 1982.
      • The Program was re-strategized in 2003 to include two schemes, viz. Modernization of State Mental Hospitals and Up-gradation of Psychiatric Wings of Medical Colleges/General Hospitals.
    • Mental HealthCare Act 2017:
      • It guarantees every affected person access to mental healthcare and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
      • It has significantly reduced the scope for the use of Section 309 IPC and made the attempt to commit suicide punishable only as an exception.
        • Section 115(1) of the MHCA states: “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.”

Way Forward

  • Many researches have emphasized the importance of ‘disrupting how men traditionally think about depression and suicide by breaking down the stigma that surrounds these topics’ through nationwide campaigns.
  • Originating a dialogue, sustaining that dialogue, challenging outdated social mores, and giving a voice to the voiceless without fear of exclusion and mockery is what needs to be undertaken to ensure that all people’s mental health is taken seriously and addressed in a manner that is dignified and respectful.
  • Modern techniques, such as web-based interventions and electronic health (e-health) tools, can also be developed and utilized to reach out to people who might not otherwise seek help.

Source: TH

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