BENGALURU: The post-pandemic era has caused a rebound effect on patients with mental health disorders, with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) recording the highest-ever patient footfall of 6.22 lakh in over a decade.
Dr Shashidhara HN, resident medical officer, Nimhans, told TNIE, “The Covid pandemic and multiple mental health initiatives of Nimhans resulted in a rise in patient footfall this year. It was like the rebound phenomenon, as many patients who could not seek help during the pandemic, came forward to access professional care. Initiatives like Tele-Manas, multiple helplines for addiction, mental health issues and Covid also created awareness across India, which added to the high patient footfall.”
Nimhans is a tertiary-care centre catering to people not only from Karnataka, but other states too. The number of mental health patients rose not just in Nimhans but in other medical institutions too. Doctors said that treating a patient with mental illness is not the same as other illnesses, as each patient requires more time and specialised care.
The number of mental health patients has increased over time, but the number of professionals has not increased parallelly, explained Dr Shivaram Varambally, department of psychiatry, Nimhans. While a general practitioner can consult around 50 patients daily, a mental health doctor can only see 10 patients. On an average, a doctor must spend at least 25-30 minutes during the first consultation with a mental health patient to understand their psyche. Instead, Indian doctors end up spending only 5-10 minutes, said experts.
Nimhans is also taking multiple measures to cater to rising patient footfall. The current outpatient department is over 35 years old and has served its purpose, Dr Shashidhar said. “We are planning to get approvals to set up a new OPD complex at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore,” he said. A new neurology and neurosurgery building has been started for inpatients. Nimhans has also created additional waiting areas post-pandemic, with a new resthouse for patients coming from far.