Do you know, according to 2015-16 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) survey, every sixth person in India needs mental health help. Facts say that India has just about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

India is standing on the threshold of a mental health epidemic with more number of people affected by mental health issues in India than the entire population of Japan.

Dr Neelesh Tiwari, Neuropsychiatrist and chairman of World Brain Centre says, “According to the NMHS survey, lower income group people suffer more from mental health problems and these are the people with least access to mental health treatment. "

He further said that have you ever thought that the maid who works in your home, the sweeper who keeps your lane clean, and the rickshaw puller who takes you places may need mental health treatment support? Poverty, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction and the very stigma of being underprivileged take a toll on these people.

Dr P C Rai, Geriatric Health Expert of IVHSeniorCare adds, “Mental health problems affect all age groups. It is distressing that on one hand the children and youth of the country suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and performance issues and on the other, ~22% of elderly in India suffer from depression – a figure much higher than the global average of 4 to 16%.  Studies have established that chances of death due to heart attack or stroke is higher in elderlies with depression.”

Commenting on the key reasons that may be resulting in increased mental health issues, Dr Neelesh Tiwari adds, “The common man in India struggles with balancing family responsibilities and work pressure. Owing to decreasing time to socialize and de-stress – the built-up pressure is not finding a vent. Many couples are unhappy in their relationships but never visit a counsellor for help. With the rising trend of nuclear families, children are growing up with both parents working, sometimes in different cities. Family counselling is unheard of concept in India. While social media keeps people connected, it builds additional pressure to project only the best. 

The tolerance level of people is reducing which is evident with rising cases of road rage. Despite this alarming scenario in India, mental health continues to be a taboo topic with the immense stigma attached to it. While, people brag about their medical conditions like heart disease, surgeries, ICU stays etc, they treat mental health problem like a guilty secret to be pushed under the carpet. 

People do not know the difference between a mental health issue and madness. Also, our films and comedy shows have stereotyped mental health as something that is either dangerous or something to be ridiculed. The need is to talk about mental health – not just in conference halls, but in living rooms as well.”

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