CHENNAI: ‘NGOs are not the solution for addressing mental health issues as stated by the government in the mental health care policy,’ said the Psychiatrists Forum for People at a meet on Wednesday.
The programme was organised to debate the Tamil Nadu State Mental Health Care Policy and the implementation draft for the same.
In particular, the forum opposed the clause that stated that managerial and leadership positions would be handed to NGOs at the district level in order to monitor, supervise and coordinate all mental health activities in the districts.
The forum went on to elaborate how non-governmental organisations are not equipped to deal with the challenges that come with handling mental health illnesses and thus are not worthy of being vested with managerial responsibilities. Raising concerns over the “outright privatisation of public health systems,” the doctors said the move will fail.
“NGOisation and privatisation of mental health services will definitely fracture the already fragile public health system,” said R Karthik Deivanayagam. “International experiences in the health sector, have shown that privatisation of health care through NGOs, has resulted in worsening the existing health inequity in accessing and utilising health services.”
The doctors said the State could not pass the baton to private players and should take responsibility. For this, the doctors proposed that the existing mechanisms, resources and infrastructure be utilised appropriately to ensure better healthcare delivery.
“The government should not absolve itself of its responsibility by handing over the delivery of mental health care services to private players like NGOs,” said Karthik Deivanayagam. “The existing District Mental Health Program in 32 districts of Tamil Nadu has to be critically evaluated and strengthened for health care delivery by evolving a comprehensive public mental health policy incorporating the social determinants of health with right to health as the guiding principle.”
The National Health Mission Tamil Nadu released that State mental health care policy and implementation draft in public domain and invited comments and opinion from experts and public.