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Future of Mental Health and De-Addiction in India Post Covid-19 Era

January 20, 2021
Reviewed by: Lisa Misquith
Future of Mental Health and De-Addiction in India Post Covid-19 Era

The following blog has been reviewed by a Psychologist. If you are reading the blog on a mobile phone, you can see the reviewer’s profile at the end of the blog. Please see our editorial policy here.

The World has been dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic for more than a year now. India’s response to the pandemic was swift with a strict nationwide lockdown comparable to Wuhan, China where the coronavirus originated.

The outcome of this lockdown greatly helped in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, however, one cannot ignore the serious repercussions it had on the physical, the psychological, and financial well-being of the people of this country. There were losses in many forms; loss of life, loss of livelihood, loss of social contact. In fact, the death of a beloved Bollywood celebrity by suicide last year bought to fore the pressing issues of the future of mental health and addiction problems in India.

Reputable agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mental Health Research UK, have some distressing statistics to share about mental health in India:

  • 7.5% of Indians suffer from some mental disorder
  • Nearly 20% of Indians will suffer from mental ailments in the near future
  • 56 million Indians suffer from depression
  • 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders

When it comes to addiction there is a meteoric rise in the abuse of both licit and illicit substance in India. In fact, the United Nation’s latest report reveals that drug use in India has increased by 30% in the last decade.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India joined hands with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi to conduct the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India, the first of its kind survey in the country.

The major findings of the report are as follows:

  • Alcohol is the most preferred psychoactive drug among Indians
  • Over 160 million Indians consume alcohol
  • Nearly 90% of the consumers are dependent on alcohol
  • After alcohol, cannabis and opioids are the most widely used drugs
  • Roughly 2.8% of Indians claim to have used some form of cannabis products
  • 5 million Indians abuse illicit cannabis products such as ganja and charas

Sadly, the future of mental healthcare and de-addiction in India doesn’t look promising. At an estimated 1.366 billion, India is one of the most populous countries in the world. Although being the world’s fifth-largest economy, India has spent only 0.05 per cent of its health budget annually on mental health in the last few years, which is an abysmal 33 paisa per mental health sufferer for a whole year.

The ideal number of psychiatrists and psychologists per 100,000 population is three and above, however, in India that number stands at 0.07. There is a deficit of over 18,000 mental health practitioners. India has only 122 Government-run de-addiction centres, 29 Drug Treatment Centres (DTCs), and 216 Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) centres.

It seems the onus of seeking help lies largely with the individual and the family members and friends of the said sufferer or abuser. As a society, we need to destigmatize mental health and addiction issues. In fact, the rising trend of celebrities coming forward and sharing their mental health and addiction battles online with their fans is a good one. It will help people suffering from these problems feel less vulnerable and will encourage them to seek help.

Today, online healthcare and counselling services allow people with mental health or addiction problems to seek help in a discreet way, giving them the space to heal at their own pace. These services need to be more recognised and made available to people in need.

In closing, the future when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic is still unclear, however, we can ensure the future of mental health and de-addiction has a better outcome.