Boost to mental healthcare

1,756 professionals to be added every year

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Sonal Matharu | February 17, 2011



More than 1,700 qualified mental health professionals will be added to the health system every year in the country, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Thursday.

“Under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), we have two components for manpower development," Azad explained, "Under the first component, we are  developing 11 institutions across the country as centres of excellence in mental health. These institutions will add 44 psychiatrists, 176 clinical psychologists, 176 psychiatric social workers and 220 psychiatric nurses annually.”

As part of the second component, he said, the states had been asked to start postgraduate courses in mental health. This will add 60 psychiatrists, 240 clinical psychologists, 240 psychiatric social workers and 600 psychiatric nurses annually.

“Together, these two schemes would help us to produce 1,756 qualified mental health professional annually and enable to bridge the gap between our requirement and the availability of mental health professionals,” the minister said at the inauguration of the three-day international conference of the Asia Pacific Community Mental Health Development Project.

Between six and seven percent of India's population suffers from common mental disorders and one to two percent suffers from severe mental disorders. Health ministry launched the district mental health programme in 1996 on a pilot basis in four districts which now covers up to 123 districts under the district mental health programme.

However, the government has not been able to expand the programme to all 650 districts in the country due to shortage of healthcare professionals, said DC Jain, special director general health services under the health ministry.

“One of the major constraints in implementing the national mental health programme is the provision of manpower, whether it is doctors, nurses, specialists, paramedics or other health professionals,” said Azad.
 

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