Manipur is among the states with the highest number of mental health problems caused by socio-economic issues, according to experts. However, there is no dedicated hospital for mental health in the state yet. Despite the urgent need for it, the proposed construction of a mental health hospital at Salam Keikhu under Lamsang is yet to take off. The main reasons cited for the delay are lack of adequate resources and manpower.
“Lack of adequate resources and manpower are hindering the setting up of such hospitals… There is a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists to run mental hospitals,” state Director of Health Services, Dr Khoirom Sasheekumar Mangang, said on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.
The World Mental Health Day 2022 with the theme "Make Mental Health and Well Being for all a Global Priority" was jointly observed in Imphal by the National Mental Health Programme, National Health Mission and Manipur Directorate of Health Services.
“The state is trying hard to get funds for its construction and it is hopeful that the central government will surely sanction it," the Health director said.
According to Dr Sasheekumar, to have a good mental healthcare service, the minimum number of psychiatrists required is 16 in every 1 lakh population while the required number of psychologists is 26 in every 1 lakh population. This standard ratio is maintained in developed countries like the United States, but India is unable to maintain this ratio, the director added.
As per the population of Manipur, the required number of psychiatrists is around 300 and that of psychologists is 900. But at present, Manipur has less than 100 psychiatrists and 300 psychologists.
After some years, the state would surely reach this adequate number of psychiatrists and psychologists, he said. He also said that despite facing an acute shortage of manpower who can deal with mental health, the state government is planning to construct a mental hospital considering its necessity.
It may be mentioned that, earlier, former director of state Health Services, Dr K Rajo Singh also said the state government had sent a proposal for construction of a mental hospital to the tune of Rs 25 crore. Dr Rajo had then said that due to the increase in substance abuse cases in the state, Manipur remains one of the states with high mental health issues.
As the state has been grappling with the problem of high substance abuse, 23 per cent of the total population has mental disorders due to drug addiction.
According to a survey conducted by the state, 22.4 per cent of total population consume alcohol, 3.74 per cent use cannabis, 14.22 per cent use opioid, 7.73 per cent use sedative items, 40 to 50 per cent use smokeless tobacco, 20-25 per cent use smoke tobacco.
Around 3 lakh and 2 lakh people of Manipur suffered from depression and anxiety respectively in the year 2015, an expert said.
Apart from substance abuse, according to Dr Sasheekumar, invention of various latest technologies is one of the root causes of developing mental illness. Such invention has led to increase human greed and desire in an unlimited manner, he said.
"There was a time when people were so simple and were bothered only for food, clothes and shelter. In those days, mental illness was hardly reported. But with the development of technology, people's mindset is completely altered, resulting in increasing mental health problems," he added.
Considering the rise in the mental illness, though there is no dedicated hospital for mental health in the state yet, mental illness is being treated at best level with the available resources in the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) and other district hospitals, Dr Sasheekumar said.
The Health director appealed to the people of the state to remain positive and do regular exercise to keep mental health problems at bay.
It may be noted that during the World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 observation in Chandel, District Mental Health Programme Chandel coordinator M Sushilkumar stated that 1.64 lakh people committed suicide in India in 2021 with about 450 suicide cases per day. In Manipur, around 44 people committed suicide in 2020 and the number of suicide cases in 2021 was 29.
The impact of the pandemic has worsened the mental health of the general population. Considering it, experts are expecting a five-fold increase in mental health cases in the coming days.
Taking serious note of the concerning situation, it is hoped that the state government will give priority to the mental health of the people in the state and take steps to speed up the construction of the state's mental health hospital.