India faces severe mental health crisis: ICMR

The findings are based on a survey of 1.18 lakh households and 5.76 lakh individuals in the National Sample Survey (NSS) held between July and December 2018.

Published: 12th April 2023 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2023 07:48 AM   |  A+A-

Mental Health

Image used for representational purpose only. (File | EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: High expenditure on mental disorders is shooting up families’ healthcare budget, and pushing an estimated 20 per cent of Indian households, having a member with mental disorder, into poverty, according to the latest Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study.

The findings are based on a survey of 1.18 lakh households and 5.76 lakh individuals in the National Sample Survey (NSS) held between July and December 2018. The study covered 6,679 individuals who reported mental illness during the survey.

A first-of-its-kind study in India found that of the total household budget on healthcare, over 18.1 per cent was on mental care.

The mental health issues have been categorised as ‘having abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour, and relationships apart from bipolar mood disorders, depression, dementia and intellectual impairments’.

People in smaller regions like Daman and Diu (23.4 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (23.9 per cent) and Sikkim (31.9 per cent) spend the most on mental disorders compared to other parts of the country. Among the bigger states, Maharashtra (21.3 per cent) and Telangana (22.2 per cent) top the list. According to the study, a large number of households - 59.5 per cent - had “catastrophic” health expenditures. 

The study states that India faces a severe mental health crisis, with illnesses constituting one-sixth of all health-related disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia.

“Overall, 20.7 per cent of the households were pushed into poverty. There is a critical need to accelerate on-ground measures for early diagnosis and management of mental health issues in order to reduce healthcare expenses, in the country,” said Dr Denny John, Adjunct Faculty, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi, a co-author of the study, told this paper.

The study said there is a critical need to provide financial risk protection to reduce the impact of healthcare expenditure on mental illnesses.


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