Mental Health Expert Flags Huge Gap Between Patient Numbers, Treatment


Psychiatrist and coordinator of the district mental health programme for South Goa, Dr Shilpa Pandya, on Tuesday said there’s a huge treatment gap between people undergoing mental health problems and those seeking treatment.

“At least 70-90 per cent of those affected don’t seek treatment despite so much awareness being created,” she said, while pointing to a 35% rise in all mental health cases after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are going to see an epidemic of mental health problems,” Pandya told reporters on the sidelines of a programme conducted in the hospital as part of World Mental Health Day.

The team under the district mental health programme sees around 30-40 patients each day at the South Goa district hospital’s OPD 27, which works out to roughly 700-800 patients each month. On other days, the team goes to villages in South Goa to reach out to those who do not make it to the hospital.

OPD 27 is operational on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“We are covering almost the whole of South Goa with these extension camps. The purpose is to reach out to the periphery where people cannot come to the main hospital, and to also provide them with medication, counselling and any other service we can offer at their doorstep,” said Pandya.

People can also avail of the free 24×7 Tele Manas service provided by the government of India, which is operational in Goa too. Through this, they can seek help for mental health problems over the phone.

Deputy collector and SDM Quepem, Egna Cleetus, highlighted the importance of different sectors coming together to fulfil the huge treatment gap in mental health.

On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, the team organised an exhibition, ‘Radiant Midscape-Mansik Saokhya’, bringing different streams of medicine, including psychiatry, ayurveda, homoeopathy, and nutrition, along with psychology and yoga together, to increase awareness about mental health, destigmatise it, and make it more accessible.

The exhibition was organised to show people who are still apprehensive about seeking psychiatric help that there are other streams available that they can turn to if they need help.

Source: The Times of India