Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar inaugurated a national conference on “Moving Mental Health Beyond Institutions, here today. Justice Arun Mishra, Hon’ble Chairperson, NHRC was also present on the occasion. The objective of the conference is to discuss the challenges in the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and deliberate on the way forward on resolution of mental health issues.
Dr. Pawar stated that “mental health is an integral part of our health as it affects all aspects of our lives.” Underlining the importance of mental health, she stated that “It is critically important to remove the stigma that prevents individuals from seeking the help that they need.” She added that under the leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, mental health has been given a lot of importance which is demonstrated by the passing of the landmark Mental Healthcare Act 2017.
Highlighting the importance of addressing the challenges of mental health and the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, Dr Pawar stated that “the Union govt is promoting the availability of and access to cost-effective treatment of common mental disorders”. She informed that mental health has been included in the flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme of the Union Govt. She also stated that “since the launch of the National Tele-Mental Health service, 42 Tele-Manas cells have been established that has already recorded over 2 lakh calls”.
The Union Minister underlined the need for a new mental healthcare paradigm that transcends the limitations of institutions and focuses on community-based support. She urged the dignitaries to deliberate on the pressing issues of mental health challenges in India and work towards a future where mental healthcare is accessible, affordable, inclusive and compassionate.
Justice Arun Mishra said that one out of 10 persons suffers from one or different kinds of mental disorders. He added that, “addressing mental health requires a comprehensive approach encompassing healthcare, education, public policy and social support systems.”
Stressing on the need for empathy, not sympathy towards mental illness, he made a strong case for mental health to be given the same importance as physical health. “We need integration of mental health, substance abuse, general medical care and hospital and community care, which are poorly coordinated”, he stated.
Justice Mishra stated that “without mental health, there is no health”. He underscored the need to mobilize efforts to raise awareness of mental health issues. He stated, “We must integrate mental health education into our schools, colleges and workplaces. Setting up healthy boundaries with social media is also necessitated.”
Highlighting the challenges to addressing mental health issues in India, Justice Mishra noted the need for allocating more funds and resources to update mental health services and research. He also flagged the need for proper infrastructure like recreational facilities in mental health institutions and stressed on increasing the number of educational institutions and seats for professional mental health courses.
During the event, a book titled, “Mental Health: Concern for All – In Context of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017’ and a report on “Status of Implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017” was also released by the dignitaries.
The National Conference will have thematic sessions on challenges in implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017; Infrastructural aspects and human resource of mental health establishments; Rights of persons with mental illness, including reintegration, rehabilitation and empowerment; and Latest trends in critical care of mental health, international perspective and way forward.
Shri Bharat Lal, Secretary General, NHRC; Shri Rajiv Jain, Member, NHRC; Dr D M Mulay, Member, NHRC; Justice M M Kumar, Former Member, NHRC; Shri D K Nim, Joint Secretary, NHRC; representatives from NGOs and senior officials from MoHFW and NHRC were present on the occasion.