Spare a thought for psychiatric caregivers too

  • According to National Health Mission estimates, 6%­7% of India’s population suffers from mental disorders. Without proper diagnosis, the patient and their families keep suffering as mental health responses remain mired in myths, stigmas, and taboos.
Reasons for caregiver stress:
  • Physical and Emotional caregiving– The caregiver is under considerable stress because of the physical and emotional caregiving along with the social isolation.
  • Patient reaction to treatment- A patient’s non­adherence to treatment, prevalent in such cases, further exacerbates caregiver stress.
  • Support for psychiatric treatment– Women caregivers face challenges in balancing myriad activities and are less likely to receive informal support for psychiatric treatment.
Need for structured intervention:
  • Policies neglecting caregiver- The National Mental Health Programme and the decentralized District Mental Health Programme remain focused on the patient but neglect the caregiver.
  • Spread Awareness– Given the prolonged distress experienced by caregivers, it is essential to introduce a structured intervention programme to educate and support the caregivers of psychiatric patients.
  • Insufficient budget allocation- Insufficient budget allocation for mental health patients also raises concerns of developing intervention for psychiatric care­givers.
Way Forward:
  • Effective partnership needed– A comprehensive treatment of severe psychiatric illnesses in the future would need building effective partnerships between health­care professionals, informal caregivers, and psychosocial interventions, where required.
  • Mental Healthcare Act 2017– The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 provided a corrective step with the mandate to treat mental disorders on a par with physical disorders for insurance coverage.
  • Increasing Private Insurers- Government schemes provided by public sector insurance companies provide coverage for mental disorders. However, coverage by private insurers remains limited.
Mains Question: Discuss the prevailing mental health issues in India, and suggest few measures to be taken under National Health Mission address these concerns.
Syllabus Mapping:
  • Subject: Polity and Governance (GS-II)
    • Sub-topic: Government Policies and Interventions, Schemes and Initiatives
  • Introduction: Bring light on various mental health issues and India and its negligence
  • Contributions of National Health mission towards mental health issues.
  • Mention measures taken by government to solve the same
  • Highlight the people centric contributions too
  • Conclude on positive note in terms of better infrastructure, funding and awareness towards the area.

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