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11 Apr 2017

One in 8 Punjabis suffers from mental illness

Punjab has for long been considered the land of plenty that gives birth to strong and physically healthy people.

Yet, one out of eight Punjabis is suffering from mental illness, according to the Mental Health Survey: Punjab (2016-17).

More alarming is the fact that around 80% of all patients suffering from mental illness don't have any access to treatment.

In context

Punjab's mental health crisis

Prevalence of mental illness in Punjab higher than national levels

Around 18% of Punjab's population suffer from mental illnesses during their lifetimes, much higher than the national level of 13.6%. Currently, 13% of Punjab's population is suffering from mental illness. The national level is 10.5%.

No treatment

82% of depressive disorder patients receive no treatment access

Around 21.9 lakh people in Punjab are suffering from mental illnesses. Only 20% (4.4 lakh) of them have access to medical treatment.

The treatment gap for common mental disorders is 80%, for severe mental disorders - 57%, for alcohol use disorders - 81% and for depressive disorders - 82%.

Nearly 0.5% of the 2,895 individuals surveyed in the study have suicidal risk.

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High drug use

4 lakh people in Punjab take hard drugs

Nearly 8% of Punjab's adult population suffers from alcohol use disorder while national level is 4.7%.

The prevalence of tobacco use disorder in Punjab is 5.5% (national level: 20.89%) and other subjects use disorder - 2.5% (national level: 0.6%).

"Nearly, 4 lakh people are regularly taking hard drugs (opium and heroin). Out of these, only 80,000 have received treatment," said Dr Chavan, a psychiatrist.

Situation bad

Acute shortage of mental health workers worsens situation

Chavan said there are 127 psychiatrists in all of Punjab.

"Ideally, there should be one psychiatrist per lakh population, but in Punjab the ratio is 0.46 per lakh. Punjab needs at least 270 psychiatrists," Chavan said.

There are just 12 clinical psychologists, while 226 are needed.

Most crucially, 19 out of Punjab's 22 districts of Punjab don't run district mental health programme.

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