Country’s first ever National Mental Health Policy unveiled
Half Baked n Inconsequential National Mental Health Policy Bulldozed Through
New Delhi, October 10: Half baked and en bloc extrapolated script was bulldozed through as National Mental Health Policy. Over half a dozen Union Health Ministry officials have been taken aback at the dusting document so surreptitiously launched. Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, today here unveiled the first ever national mental health policy amidst uncertainty over its implementation. He, however, issued an appeal, saying society needs to change perception on mental illness
Sources, in Nirman Bhavan housing union health ministry, said there was no consensus on the draft. Even Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan was earlier not amenable to it and wanted it redrafted taking into account the Indian realities. In a meeting held in Health Ministry on 1st of October, it was decided to keep the draft in limbo and invite suggestions from people for devising a new and relevant one. The draft that was passed hurriedly today was dusting for about four years for want of consensus. An official, who was aghast at the turn of events, said, ‘the inconsequential draft is just a copy from other countries. It is completely divorced from Indian realities.’ Officials fail to understand what the hurry was when it had been decided to be put on hold.
He said, ‘Against massive mental maladies, meager 400 psychiatrists are considered a pittance. Most of them are in the cities. The draft is a veritable wish list which is impossible to implement.’ However, Dr Vardhan said that universal access to mental health care is a specific goal of the government. It would find substantial articulation in the evolving National Health Policy and National Health Assurance Mission (NHAM), he said.
‘I visited the famous Institute of Mental Health and Hospital in Agra this week in preparation for the launch of the National Mental Health Policy. I have promised it fresh funds for modernization and expansion. Similar funds will be given to all hospitals in the country to enable them to open departments for treating patients in need of psychological and psychiatric healthcare,’ the Minister said today after launching India’s first Mental Health Policy.
The Policy’s objective is to provide universal access to mental health care by enhancing understanding of mental health and strengthening leadership in the mental health sector at all levels. It will have a pro-poor orientation because only the creamy layer of society presently has access to mental healthcare in India today, the Health Minister stated.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Policy is backed up by the “Mental Health Action Plan 365”. It clearly spells out the specific roles to be played by the Central government, the state governments, local bodies and civil society organizations. He also released two booklets published by the Directorate General of Health Services: “A Training Module of Essential Psychiatry in General Practice” and “A Guide to Psychiatry in General Practice”.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, ‘We want a nation that upholds the human rights of mental patients.’ On the occasion, Ms. Nata Menabde, Country representative WHO, Love Verma, Union Health Secretary, Dr Jagdish Prasad, DGHS and other senior officers of the ministry.