World Mental Health Day



    • World Mental Health Day 2021 celebrated every year on October 10.

    About World Mental Health Day

    • It was first observed on October 10, 1992 as an annual activity of the World Federation for Mental Health.
    • The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
    • Overall Objectives : To raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.

    What are Determinants of Mental Health? 

    • Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point in time. 
    • For example, violence and persistent socio-economic pressures are recognized risks to mental health. The clearest evidence is associated with sexual violence.
    • Poor mental health is also associated with 
      • rapid social change, 
      • stressful work conditions, 
      • gender discrimination, 
      • social exclusion, 
      • unhealthy lifestyle, 
      • physical ill-health and 
      • human rights violations.
    • There are specific psychological and personality factors that make people vulnerable to mental health problems. Biological risks include genetic factors.

    Mental health in India: Data

    • WHO estimates that about 7.5 percent of Indians suffer from some mental disorder and predicts that by the end of this year roughly 20 percent of India will suffer from mental illnesses. 
    • According to the numbers, 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders.
    • WHO states that there is a huge shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in India. 
    • India also accounts for 36.6 percent of suicides globally.
    • As per the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16, conducted by the NIMHANS, Bengaluru, it was revealed that 9.8 million teenagers in the age group 13-17 years suffer depression and other mental health disorders and are “in need of active intervention”. 
    • A report published in The Lancet Psychiatry in February 2020 indicates that in 2017, there were 197.3 million people with mental disorders in India. 

    COVID-19 and Mental Health

    • People are experiencing fear, worry, and stress due to the pandemic.
    • The fear of contracting the virus has led to significant changes in the daily lives of people.
    • The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, are creating mental health issues.
    • People with mental health conditions are at a higher risk of dying prematurely.
    • Depression one of the commonest mental health illnesses is one of the leading causes of disability while suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-old.

    WHO response

    • WHO supports governments in the goal of strengthening and promoting mental health. 
      • It has evaluated the evidence for promoting mental health and is working with governments to disseminate this information and to integrate effective strategies into policies and plans.
    • In 2013, the World Health Assembly approved a “Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020″
      • The Action Plan’s overall goal is to promote mental well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights and reduce the mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental disorders. 
    • It focuses on 4 key objectives to:
      • strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health;
      • provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings;
      • implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health; and
      • strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.

    Government of India Initiatives 

    • National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982
      • To ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all in the foreseeable future, particularly to the most vulnerable and underprivileged sections of the population.
    • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
      • It was passed in 2017, came into effect in May 2018 and replaced the Mental Health Act of 1987. 
      • To the joy of most Indian medical practitioners and advocates of mental health, the act decriminalised suicide attempts in India. 
      • It also included WHO guidelines in the categorisation of mental illnesses
      • The most significant provision in the act was “advanced directives”, which allowed individuals with mental illnesses to decide the course of their treatment and also appoint someone to be their representative. 
      • It also restricted the use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), and banned its use on minors, finally introducing measures to tackle stigma in Indian society.
    • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017
      • The Act acknowledges mental illness as a disability and seeks to enhance the Rights and Entitlements of the Disabled and provide an effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and inclusion in the society
    • Manodarpan Initiative
      • An initiative under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan aims to provide psycho-social support to students for their mental health and well-being.
    • Kiran Helpline
      • The helpline is a giant step towards suicide prevention and can help with support and crisis management.
      • The helpline aims to provide early screening, first-aid, psychological support, distress management, mental well-being, and psychological crisis management and will be managed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
    • SAATHI: It is  a South-Asian Mental Health Outreach Program of ASHA International that aims to:
      • Promote awareness about mental health and emotional wellbeing
      • Improve access to care

    More Ways to Promote Mental Health

    • Support children through life skills programmes, child and youth development programmes, mental health promotional activities in schools.
    • Socio-economic empowerment of women by improving access to education and microcredit schemes. Mental health interventions at work (e.g. stress prevention programmes).
    • Social support for elderly populations befriending initiatives, community and day centres for the aged.
    • Programmes targeted at vulnerable people, including minorities, indigenous people, migrants and people affected by conflicts and disasters (e.g. psycho-social interventions after disasters)
    • Promoting an environment that respects and protects basic civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights.
    • Community development programmes (e.g. integrated rural development); poverty reduction and social protection for the poor; anti-discrimination laws and campaigns.
    • National mental health policies should be concerned both with mental disorders and with broader issues that promote mental health. 
      • Mental health promotion should be mainstreamed into governmental and non-governmental policies and programmes. 
      • In addition to the health sector, it is essential to involve the education, labour, justice, transport, environment, housing, and welfare sectors.

    Constitution and Legal Provisions

    • Article 21: The right to a dignified life extends to the right to seek Mental Health care.
    • Article 47: Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.

    Way Forward

    • There is a need for massive awareness and sensitivity to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness.
    • The increase in the expenditure in mental healthcare in the overall budget.
    • Medical workers should be trained in dealing with mentally ill patients.