Brussels [Belgium]/ New Delhi [India], Nov. 2 (ANI/BusinessWire India): The Mental Health Policymakers Forum, India, organized a panel discussion at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting on Oct. 25, 2022 in Brussels, to discuss mental health challenges. mental health, especially the most vulnerable. in India. The discussion was organized in collaboration with Grand Challenges Canada and ETI Services to support the launch of an innovative new youth-focused mental initiative.
India has seen an increase in youth suicides over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing pressures on mental health are debilitating and require a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to propel attention towards a more holistic model of care and support. To address this issue, policy makers, experts and people with lived experiences have come together to identify the gaps in mental health care in India and how current structures can be changed to address them.
Dr. Dalbir Singh, Founder and Chair of the Mental Health Policymakers Forum, chaired the panel. He emphasized that “there are various dimensions to this societal malaise and reiterated that there is a need for a radical paradigm shift in the existential biomedical approach, comprehensive and pragmatic government strategies, vibrant health literacy, media and local communities, in collaboration with local governments and civil society, a responsive business sector and innovative technologies in addition to targeted interventions for the most vulnerable Aggressive advocacy by policy makers and elected officials supported by strong political will plays a vital role in promoting the level of discourse and awareness in addition to creating synergy and cross-sectoral coordination among various stakeholders.”
Bhubaneshwar Kalita, Member of Parliament and Member of the Policymakers Forum for Mental Health, spoke in his address about the burden of mental health issues that fall disproportionately on women and girls. He explained: “There are major crises of accessibility, for female populations, which affect all healthcare processes (in general) – from diagnosis to treatment. This is exacerbated by information asymmetry which affects women far more as they still struggle to educate themselves and claim their place in the most crucial aspects of public service delivery If existing institutions are strengthened and embrace mental health services in their scope of application, we can imagine a future-oriented structural change.
Vincent Pala, also an MP and member of the Mental Health Policymakers Forum, focused his responses on youth suicide in India. He began by highlighting why there is a need to rethink mental health policy and how “family problems” and “illness”, not unemployment or bankruptcy, are the main reasons for suicide in the elderly population. 18 to 30 years old. years. He also pointed out that family spaces were not necessarily safe, as had been imagined for years, letting everyone know that housewives accounted for more than half of all female suicide victims, and the have linked to the increase in reported cases of violence against women. at home during COVID-19. Describing how suicides are culturally perceived in India, Pala had an interesting perspective: “The stigma associated with suicide is linguistically governed by popular media and this most often leads to under-reporting.”
Dr. Rajdeep Roy, MP and member of the Mental Health Policymakers Forum as well as a member of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, provided background on the Mental Health Care Act, which came into force in 2017, suggesting that this was a watershed moment in the history of mental health services in India, as the nature of this act is very progressive in “initiating the establishment of a central and state-run authority , and by decriminalizing suicide and banning electroconvulsive therapy – the elements of confidentiality, quality health care, and rehabilitation allow this act to become a precedent for other nations,” he added.
Dr. Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, BIRAC, India said “The role of Indian biotech industry during COVID-19 has been praised by the nation. the mental health of the population under control. What it turns off are the risk factors that lead to anxiety and depression in individuals over the long term, and BIRAC looks forward to partnerships to make a difference and improve mental health innovations in India.
Arjun Kapoor, Program Manager and Research Fellow at the Indian Law Society, highlighted the triadic relationship between legal rights, mental health services and field management. He spoke about some of the important programs and partnerships that the Center for Mental Health Law and Policy is undertaking in India to ensure accessibility of mental health services locally and also work on suicide prevention. He said that “While progress in terms of policy and implementation has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in terms of how mental health interventions are imagined and delivered from the top. Actors on the ground, including both NGOs and the general public/beneficiaries, need to be included in the scope of action whenever planning (for policy and implementation) is done, to ensure they design solutions for themselves; in the universalization of policies at the central office level, voices from the margins are often excluded.”
Dr. Sukriti Chauhan, CEO of ETI Services, spoke about her experience working on mental health, particularly with adolescents. She began by explaining that there are more complex and convoluted mental illnesses than generic populations know, and that they are also largely age-sensitive, even within the adolescent group (10-19 years old). . “Since, while the usual measures of promotion, prevention and early detection can help mitigate the impending pandemic of mental health problems, it is also essential to have a (constant) dialogue between several stakeholders to talk about mental health. This will involve the help of doctors, civil servants, civil society organizations, pressure groups, media agencies, schools, parents and even adolescents themselves,” he said. -she adds.
The session concluded with remarks from Dr. Dalbir Singh, Chair of the Mental Health Policymakers Forum.
Launched in 2021, the Mental Health Policymakers Forum aims to bring together various stakeholders under one roof and draw the attention of policymakers from different political parties to develop an action plan and suggested recommendations for the formulation of a concerted strategy for the prevention of suicides. The Forum is guided by leading experts and practitioners in the field in creating the necessary evidence.
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