Mental health and well-being, across civilisations, have received attention although variably. The ancient science of Yoga emphasises ‘chittavrittinirodha’ i.e., to calm the oscillation of the mind towards stability. Public Health focus was provided by the landmark World Health Report - 2001 titled “Mental health: new hope, new understanding”. Beginning with the World Health Day 2001 theme “Stop exclusion-Dare to care”, there has been a renewed effort to mainstream mental health along with the growing Non Communicable Disease agenda. There is thus an urgent need to identify the force multiplier for mental health. A dedicated Mental Health Policy, the new mental health care bill are definitely right steps in this direction. The just concluded National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) needs to be considered as another beginning being made for accelerating solutions for mental health care services across the country.
The National Mental Health Survey has quantified the burden of those suffering from mental, select neurological and substance use problems. NMHS has also undertaken the onerous task of identifying the baseline information for subsequent development of mental health systems across the states. The results from the NMHS point to the huge burden of mental health problems: while, nearly 150 million Indians need mental health care services, less than 30 million are seeking care; the mental health systems assessment indicate not just a lack of public health strategy but also several under-performing components. NMHS by providing the much needed scientific rigour to plan, develop and implement better mental health care services in India in the new millennium, has hence termed its report as “Prevalence, Patterns and Outcomes” and “Mental Health Systems”.
The NIMHANS team had 125 investigators drawn from nearly 15 premier institutions pan-India. The NMHS has been a unique activity entrusted to NIMHANS. Team NIMHANS has worked tirelessly over the last two years. The 50+ strong team from Epidemiology and Mental health takes credit for this accomplishment. I would like to specially compliment the former Director, Prof Satish Chandra, who took special interest and laid a firm foundation for the NMHS activities and all expert members for their unstinted support and continued guidance. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India as the nodal agency for mental health provided the financial resources for the survey and also facilitated the smooth conduct of the survey related activities in the individual states. The Joint Secretary chaired the NTAG meetings and guided the work.
The recommendations of the present report are structured to make a better beginning as well as to enhance and improve care where it already exists. It provides for a public health framework to monitor and evaluate plans, programs and services. We look forward to the continued dialogue and feedback, whence we take a pledge to improve mental health care systems in our country.