Hospitals must have mental health depts: Experts
On the occasion of World Health Day, a panel discussion was held at NIMHANS; 6-8% adolescents suffer from depression, says study
BENGALURU: Depression cuts across all specialties - child health, cancer care, neurological disorders, diabetes and gynaecology. Sample this: Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, the second largest cancer care hospital in Asia, gets 18,000 new patients and three lakh follow up patients every year. 90 per cent of the patients need the attention of a mental healthcare professional but the hospital has only one clinical psychologist.
At a panel discussion at NIMHANS on the occasion of World Health Day, around 10 noted specialists discussed how depression affects patients of all specialities. Dr A Jagadish from Abhaya Hospital said, “There should be a dedicated mental health department at every hospital.”
The heads of every government tertiary care hospital agreed. Dr K B Lingegowda, director of Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, said, “We are lucky to have NIMHANS next door. Those patients who cannot be seen by our clinical psychologist are referred to NIMHANS.”
He was talking about how patients automatically become depressed when the ‘big C’ is mentioned. “They think of how they are going to manage the disease financially, children’s education, support system and become depressed,” Lingegowda said.
Depression among children
Depression is often seen as an adult problem and that a child isn’t mature enough to grasp problems. Dr John Vijay Sagar from child psychiatry department of NIMHANS sought to clear the notion.
“Estimates suggest that two per cent children and 6-8 per cent adolescents have depression. If the child is exhibiting frequent temper tantrums, aggression towards siblings, multiple somatic symptoms like fatigue, suicidal behaviours and expresses death wishes, then it needs help,” he said. In children the symptoms are different, concurred panel moderator, Dr Prabha Chandra, head of psychiatry, NIMHANS.
A common complaint was that doctors are not equipped with basics of psychiatry in their MBBS education or are not given scales (questionnaires) that they could administer to patients with suspicious symptoms.