New Delhi: Mental and mental health problems have reached epidemic proportions. Today, perhaps 755 percent of Indians suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. India has the highest suicide rate per million population. Student suicide is on the rise. Oral and physical domestic abuse of women continues. Prolonged school closures have resulted in severe emotional distress and learning disabilities among children. Our young population, which is supposed to give us a huge demographic dividend, has suffered the most. It is now medically established that mental health problems cause serious physical health problems such as cardio-vascular disease and diabetes in addition to neurological problems.

Relationship problems arising from poor mental health reflect the increase in divorce rates. Problems with anger and resentment lead to serious crimes such as murder and rape. India, on the other hand, has the lowest number of psychologists and psychiatrists per million population. Sadly with the exception of a few single voices, this epidemic is completely out of the public and state consciousness.



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Collectively, we think mental health should be a priority for stakeholders across the spectrum, below are a few ideas to turn the tide: The role of the state The government has a huge role to play in providing mental health care support. First, it will certainly significantly increase the ability to teach high quality psychology and psychiatry. If every state can have an IIT or IIM, why can’t every state have a Nimhan (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience)?

Second, awareness. Mental health is suffering from a huge stigma. Family planning has been widely practiced as well as permanent and determined awareness of family planning (as was the case in India), the joint efforts of the government and our excellent communication talent should start a long-term, well-funded awareness program.

Third, mental health treatment must be brought in line with physical health. Today, mental health therapy attracts 18 percent GST while physical health care GST rate is zero. This inconsistency needs to be corrected.


Fourth, the IRDA must ensure that all insurance companies provide comprehensive coverage of mental health services. Even after the Supreme Court ruled, most insurance companies consider mental health to be an add-on, often not covering non-medical therapy and medical care.

Fifth, every government hospital must have a psychiatric ward with adequate capacity and high quality. The latest but not the least, mental health treatment efforts are the same systematic and enterprising efforts as Aadhaar, Digital Payments, Transparent India

Role of schools and parents With the exception of some enlightened schools and colleges, educational institutions do not pay enough attention or investment to the mental and emotional health of students. While applicable at all times, educators need to focus on helping returning students handle the emotional baggage they have accumulated over the past 18 months. Children and adolescents who do not have mental health problems often become adults with behavioral and mental illness. Children are our future. Educators must ensure that our future generations stay mentally and physically healthy.

Role of employers The epidemic has resulted in a significant increase in awareness among human resources about the importance of employee mental health. However, in our experience this awareness has not spread to business leaders or boards. Emotional health programs mean unsubsidized and often infrastructural and scattered. As a result, we are seeing an increase in isolated employees with lower productivity and higher ratio rates. Eventually an unhappy and miserable organization gives poor business results. Global research has shown that investing in emotional health has a ROI of 4-5X for every $ 1. Business leaders and boards should view emotional health not as an expense but as an investment with high returns.

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