Stigma is the biggest barrier faced by mental health patients, says President of India

India is staring at a possible mental health epidemic. Those were the grim words used by President Ram Nath Kovind while launching the 21st World Congress of Mental Health in Delhi.

With 65% of the population below the age of 35 years, and rapid urbanization, India must face up to the challenges. The biggest barrier faced by mental health patients, Kovind said, is stigma and denial.

This leads to the issue being ignored or not discussed. Kovind urged people to talk about mental health issues like depression and stress openly as they are curable.

Those living in the big metros and those in the youth category are the most vulnerable to mental illnesses. But there is a major issue in addressing their problems as there are not enough experts. India has a population of over one billion but there are just 700,000 doctors.

The crisis is worse in the field of mental health, where there are only 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists in India.

The President announced that India is building 22 centres of excellence in the field of mental health. The District Mental Health Program in 650 districts is aiming to make conversation about mental health common even among the poorest in the country.

At the World Congress, there will be caregivers who will share stories about the problems faced while taking care of people with mental health issues.

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