Mental Health in an Unequal World

In a country like ours where every 100 kms, language, culture, dialect and food changes, so do people, their problems, perspectives, opportunities, resources and access to these resources. India is a country of diversity when it comes to culture and traditions but also when it comes to the harrowing gap between the rich and the millions of poor and homeless people that are poverty stricken, and for whom healthcare is a luxury. Much like healthcare, mental wellbeing is a concept foreign to a large population of the country. A lot of factors like poverty and income inequality, religion and caste, cultural and traditional influences, civic and political systems, age and disability as well as gender and sexual orientation are responsible for such an exclusivity of mental health services. About 80% of all healthcare services are being provided by the private sector making mental health practically inaccessible to those who can’t afford it. There is also the pressing issue of specialization as well as availability of services. With professionals being limited to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities as well as the lack of education and awareness about mental health and well-being, the pressure continues to weigh down the system. Along with affordability, the system lacks professionals specialised in the rehabilitation of survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, substance addiction and childhood trauma. For most of the deprived populations, there has been a systematic overlap of inequalities making them more susceptible to depression, anxiety, addictions, self harm and suicidal ideations. There is a lack of conversation and dialogue, when in fact the need of the hour is de-stigmatisation of mental health disorders and seeking professional help. At the roots of deteriorating mental health lies the lack of social support. As a community, we must equip ourselves with empathy and a kind, listening ear. Just like there is a specialist Doctor for every bodily system, our minds too are parts of our bodies and must be tackled with love and care. The National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-2016 brought attention to the fact that psychological aid and intervention should find its grounding in law and policies. The number of Government funded In-patient hospitals and centres in the country are extremely low. There is also a deficit of special preventative and advocacy programmes as well as monetary aid to run such programmes. The limited number of NGOs and Crowd Sourced Clinics are also burdened since there is a staggering deficit in the number of trained professionals equipped with the proper skills to hold and contain people. Along with the need for Civic laws and policies, there also needs to be an open indulgence in the idea of ethical and moral paradigms.

Policymakers, law keepers, teachers, doctors and nurses along with the general public must be sensitized and educated about the vitality of mental health and well being. I Am Wellbeing is one such place that attempts to bring mental health interventions to populations which otherwise have no structural access to mental health facilities. The organisation works with children from low income households and high risk communities, and provides psychological support through individual and group therapy programs based on creative and novel art-based activities. These programmes and modules are administered by professionals, keeping the children’s well being at heart after thorough training and assessment. Such ventures are an attempt to bridge the treatment gap and overcome other structural disparities to bring holistic psycho-social development to every possible disadvantaged child, so that every child can have a shot at living their lives as healthy and spirited individuals. 

By: Hemanshi


I AM Wellbeing


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