Mental illness plagues Manipur

Our Special Correspondent

Imphal, Oct. 10: Health experts in Manipur warned on World Mental Health Day today that cases of mental illness were taking an alarming proportion in the state because of endless violence, unemployment and poverty.

"Manipur has many problems. Violence resulting from armed conflicts, rapes and killings in addition to unemployment have contributed to the rising cases of mental illness," M. Akshaykumar Singh, former head of department of clinical psychology in the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), told The Telegraph.

He said though there was a lack of statistics to prove the rising mental illness cases because of lack of research and documentation, a trend is visible.

"Every day more than 100 patients turn up at the psychiatric department of the RIMS while a similar number visit the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences. These figures are alarming enough," the psychologist said.

He said barring these two hospitals, other government hospitals, including primary health centres, were not equipped enough to deal with the situation. "Lack of infrastructure has added to the problem," he said.

Earlier speaking at the World Mental Health Day function organised here, Singh called for a thorough research to know the exact scenario in Manipur and a government policy to deal with the situation.

The programme was organised by the state health department in association with Manipur Mental Health Authority and Indian Psychiatric Society, Manipur branch.

"Mothers could develop depression fearing for the safety of their school-going children. They are unable to rest until their children come back from school," he said.

Bomb attacks on security forces by militant groups have become the order of the day in the past few weeks. This has made parents and civilians out on their routine work anxious.

According to WHO, mental disorder or depression has become the third-most serious global health concern and it has projected that by 2030, it could become the number one health concern.

In India, experts said 3 per cent of the total population was considered to be mentally ill because of poverty, widening gap between the haves and have-nots and violence.

Health minister Phungzathang Tonsig urged doctors to treat patients of mental illness sympathetically.