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‘Shortage of trained hands hits treatment hard in State’

Rate of mental disorders in Meghalaya higher than national average

Dr Sandi Syiem, Director, SAN-KER speaks at a panel discussion at the Conference Hall of Pinewood Hotel, in the city on Friday on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. (UB)
Dr Sandi Syiem, Director, SAN-KER speaks at a panel discussion at the Conference Hall of Pinewood Hotel, in the city on Friday on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. (UB)

SHILLONG: There is a severe shortage of trained manpower required to cater to those suffering from various mental disorders in the State. Voicing concern over this during a panel discussion organized on the occasion of World Mental Health Day here on Friday, SAN-KER founder, Dr Sandi Syiem said the shortage is having an adverse impact in Meghalaya which has a higher rate of cases of mental disorders as compared to the national average.

Quoting Meghalaya Government’s report of 2011, Dr Syiem said the state is 75 per cent short of doctors and is unable to give the desired attention that the mental health sector demands.

“As per the study conducted by Guwahati-based psychiatrist Asha Deep, the region (NE) is not being able to meet even five per cent of the requirement of psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses,” Syiem said while making a power point presentation during the panel discussion on ‘Living with Schizophrenia’ at Pinewood Hotel here adding that the country has a very limited number of mental health facilities.

While there is one bed for every 40,000 people, three psychiatrists cater to a million in India.

Stating that there is lack of mental health services both in urban and rural areas of the State, Syiem said even a facility like NEIGHRIMS does not have a separate ward for the mentally ill.

Institutes like Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health & Neuro-Sciences (MIMHANS), SAN-KER, KRIPA foundation, New Hope are catering to the mentally unstable but most of these are located in the city leaving the rural areas high and dry as far as mental health facilities are concerned.

Out of the 11 districts in the State, only three districts – West Garo Hills and East and West Jaintia Hills are under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP). But none of these districts have full time psychiatrists for the programme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Counselling Psychology, Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU) organized a music concert as part of the global observation of World Mental Health Day.

Speaking on the occasion, Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said, “Some of the mental illnesses manifest in the most obvious ways. But most of us fail to understand that many people are silently breaking up in their minds. I hope and pray that all those who suffer quietly in the four walls of their homes know that there is help waiting, and that they should scream out and cry out to professionals who are passing out from institutions like MLCU and are ready to help them”.

The concert which also featured the band, Dosser’s Urge started with performances by the students of Department of Fine Arts, MLCU.

The concert marked the conclusion of the three-day event organized by the MLCU in collaboration with Bethany Society and SAN-KER to observe the World Mental Health Day.

Our Tura Correspondent adds:

The World Mental Health Day was also observed in Tura where a workshop themed ‘Living with Schizophrenia’ was organized at Mason Philips Hall.

The workshop was organised by the Tura Campus of the MLCU in collaboration with the Tura Civil Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry.

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