World Mental Health Day | 11 Oct 2023

For Prelims: World Mental Health Day, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, National Mental Health Programme, Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres,, National Tele Mental Health Programme

For Mains: Status of Mental Healthcare in India, Government Initiatives Related to Mental Health, Population and associated issues

Source: TH

Why in News?

10th October marks World Mental Health Day, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues and rallying support for mental health care worldwide.

  • In the context of India, this day serves as a crucial reminder of the urgent need to address the mental health challenges faced by the country's burgeoning adolescent population (aged 10-19 years) which plays a pivotal role in its future prosperity and development.
  • Theme for World Mental Health Day 2023: Mental health is a universal human right.

Note: World Mental Health Day was established on 10th October, 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. Since then, it has been observed every year.

What is the Status of Mental Healthcare in India?

  • Issues Surrounding Mental Health in India:
    • Limited Accessibility to Mental Healthcare: There is a shortage of mental health professionals in India, particularly in rural areas.
      • This scarcity results in unequal access to mental health services, with urban areas having more resources than rural ones.
    • Stigma and Lack of Awareness: Mental health issues in India are often stigmatized and misunderstood.
      • Many individuals and families hesitate to seek help due to fear of societal discrimination and lack of awareness about mental health conditions.
    • Vulnerability of Adolescents to Mental Health Challenges: Adolescence marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, laden with unique challenges, including body image issues and societal expectations.
      • Academic pressure, peer influence, and concerns about the future can significantly affect mental health during adolescence.
      • In India, adolescents with a reported prevalence of severe mental illness stands at 7.3%.
    • Gender Disparities: Gender plays a significant role in mental health disparities.
      • Women in India may face higher rates of depression, anxiety, and domestic violence, and they often have limited autonomy in seeking help.
      • According to recent report of NCRB, housewives constituted 50% of total suicides in India in 2021.
    • Economic Factors: Poverty and economic inequality can exacerbate mental health issues.
      • The stress of financial instability and limited educational opportunities can contribute to mental health problems.
    • Online and Social Media Influences: The influence of social media and online content on mental health is a growing concern.
      • Cyberbullying, social comparison, and the spread of misinformation can negatively impact mental well-being.
    • Aging Population and Geriatric Mental Health: India's aging population is growing, and there is a need for better mental health support for the elderly.
      • Loneliness, depression, and dementia are common concerns among older adults.
    • Disaster and Trauma: Natural disasters and other traumatic events can have lasting effects on mental health.
      • India is prone to disasters like floods and earthquakes, which can lead to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Way Forward

  • Shift to Convergent Model of Mental Health: Policymakers should move from the medical model to a convergent model of mental health that considers various factors influencing well-being throughout an individual's life.
    • For example, the successful implementation of the ‘Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child’ model in the US, which embraces a holistic approach to children’s well-being by considering factors such as nutrition, physical activity, and emotional health within the school environment.
  • Increased Mental Healthcare Infrastructure: Invest in building more mental health clinics and facilities, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
    • Train and recruit more mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors.
    • Promote telemedicine and online mental health services to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and increase accessibility.
  • Integration with Primary Healthcare: There is a need to integrate mental health services into the existing primary healthcare system to ensure early detection and treatment.
    • Also, training primary care providers to identify and manage common mental health issues is equally important.
  • Inclusion of Mental Health in Education: There is a need to incorporate mental health education into school curricula to promote early awareness and destigmatization.
  • Mental Health Insurance Coverage: There is a need to expand mental health coverage under health insurance policies in a phase wise manner to make treatment more affordable and accessible.
    • Also, there is a need to implement policies that ensure insurance parity for mental health services.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question:


Q. Why suicide among young women is increasing in Indian society? (2023)