23 December 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi Pune
India Has 77% Shortfall In Psychiatrists
With around 7% of India's population suffering from some form of mental disorder, the health ministry is now focusing on increasing the country's annual output of qualified mental health professionals.
Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said India has only 23% of the required psychiatrists and 25% of required psychiatric nurses. In view of this critical shortage, the ministry, under the National Mental Health Programme, has allocated Rs 470 crore for manpower development through 11 Institutions of Excellence across the country, which will help produce 1,756 qualified mental health professionals annually, Azad said.
The minister had earlier said that 20% of all patients seen by primary health care doctors had one or more mental disorders. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioral or mental disorder, he said. However, lack of trained manpower to deal with mental health has been India's major shortcoming. There is a shortage of about 8,000 psychiatrists, 17,000 clinical psychologists, 23,000 psychiatric social workers and 9,000 psychiatric nurses. As against 30,000 beds required for the mentally ill, there are only about 200 beds at present.
A ministry official told TOI that the centres of excellence in mental health would add 44 psychiatrists, 176 clinical psychologists, 176 psychiatric social workers and 220 psychiatric nurses annually.
A note prepared by the ministry said, "Seven per cent of the population suffers from mental disorders. Over 90% remain un-treated. There is less than one psychiatrist available for every four lakh population. The psychiatrist-population ratio is one for every million."
Under the 12th plan, the ministry is also planning on starting counselling services in colleges where a significant proportion of students have recognizable mental disorders in the form of depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders, adjustment disorders, personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. Around 29 state-run mental hospitals and 88 psychiatry wings in government colleges are also being upgraded.
By the year 2020, experts say, nearly 15% of the world's disease burden will be due to mental disorders.