Every state in our country is grappling with the issue of Mental Health: Prasad

Shillong October 31: The Indian National Mental Health Survey 2015 -16 has revealed that 1 in 20 people in India suffer from depression and nearly 1% of the population has been reported at a high suicidal risk, and furthermore there is an even low alarming ratio of professional help to patients with only one psychiatrist available to serve per 200,000 of the population of the country. With all these in mind the Department of Social Work of Martin Luther Christian University has organised a two day National Seminar on Mental Health.

The inaugural function of the National seminar was held today  and was inaugurated by the Governor of Meghalaya Mr. Ganga Prasad, in the presence of the Chancellor of the university, Dr. Glenn C Kharkongor, MLCU’s Vice Chancellor Dr. Vincent Darlong, Dr. Kasi Sehkar, Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS Bangalore, Dr. Sandi Syiem, Director, San-Ker, Dr. Melari S Nongrum Dean, Research MLCU who also the Convener of the Seminar.

Speaking at the Inauguration, the Governor, Mr Prasad stated that almost every state in our country is grappling with the issue of Mental Health and the stigma, discrimination that has been associated with it for centuries and hence a lot of hard work and dedication will be required to provide better health care and infrastructure for those suffering from the different forms of Mental Health and also to create opportunities for our youth to get training in dealing with Mental Health issues.

While informing that according to the WHO, dedicated Mental Health legislation can help to legally reinforce the goals of policies and plans in line with the international human rights and practice standards (WHO, 2011), he added, “So it is very timely that this Seminar is being held so that all these issues and obstacles can be discussed by providing a platform for the experts and stakeholders to peruse the Mental Health scenario in the state and the country as a whole.”

Dr. Sandi Syiem during his presentation on the Situational Analysis of the local scenario in Meghalaya informed that the National Mental Health Survery translates to 30,000 people needing urgent specialized mental health care in the state with the availability of only two Hospitals dealing with Mental Health issues and these two together proving only a total of 200 beds.

Dr Syiem further added that there is a urgent need of qualified psychiatrists in the state with only 3 psychiatrists in Shillong, 3 in 3 other district headquarters and 3 in NEIGRIHMS while another 10 are serving in 10 in private hospitals.

He also stressed the need of Psychiatric Social workers in the state, which at present they are almost none existent when compared to the ever increasing number of the patients suffering from mental health problems.

The two day National Seminar will host paper presentations from renowned experts from across the country which include Prof. R S Murthy, Prof. of Psychatry, NIMHANS, Bangalore; Dr. Sonia P Deuri, Professor, LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur, Assam; Prof. Sudhir K Khandewal, Senior Consultant in Psychiatry, Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi, to name a few.


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