Your Mind Matters
MUMBAI: On 28 August, 2018, Asia Society India Centre hosted Dr. Vikram Patel, Jerry Pinto and Dr. Samir Parikh at the Nehru Centre for a discussion on the mental health crisis in India. The session was moderated by Dr. Prabha Chandra.
Prabha Chandra started the conversation with a mention of the the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 calling it a progressive move. She also dwelled on the ‘Treatment Gap’ in India, where people with mental health problems either do not seek care or lack access to healthcare. Vikram Patel picked up the discussion from there and stressed on the need for strong political will to contain the mental health crisis, he added that the Mental Health Care Act is a step in that direction which could improve the quality of healthcare in the country. He said it is an optimistic change.
Jerry spoke from his personal experiences of living with a mentally ill parent. He described in detail the grim state of psychiatric hospitals in the country and the humiliation that patients face there. He was sceptical of the political will to engage with this issue. He was concerned that psychiatry has increasingly become the solution for all mental health issues. He added that the role of community interaction, active listening, and empathy for the patients is rarely discussed. He was equally concerned about the the government surrendering its responsibility of research to private corporations.
Vikram Patel added that ‘the ground problem is that 9 out of 10 people are not seeking help’. He was in agreement with Jerry on the importance of community interaction, he said that humans thrive in a community as they are gregarious social beings. He was critical of the ‘Prescription Behaviour’ of medical professionals calling it a ‘reductionist system’, sidelining psychological therapy. He said that a greater political will could enhance our quality of life.
Samir Parikh talked about mental healthcare as a developing branch. He mentioned the need to address the urban- rural divide in terms of access to healthcare. He suggested the need to try public- private partnership to address the mental health crisis. The discussion took a desirable turn and mental health issues and its relation with gender were discussed. Prabha Chandra said that women go trough a lot of trauma in India, right from their marriage which has a great psychological impact on them to pregnancy which is a difficult time and can be stressful. All speakers were aligned with that view. The programme ended with questions from the audience, many of those questions came from individual experiences in dealing with mental health issues.
As reported by Ashutosh Sharma, Programme Intern, Asia Society India Centre