Mental health programme of paramount importance – Khimiao
Kohima, Oct. 10 (EMN): Principal Director of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Neikhrielie Khimiao on Sunday asserted that mental health programme is of paramount importance and the Government of India along with the state government was trying its best to improve the activities in the department.
The official maintained that the various programme officers in the department and its staff were working hard and were even performing better than the normal days.
The official stated this during a programme commemorating World Mental Health Day (WMHD) organised by the SMHIK and National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) organised at State Mental Health Institute Kohima (SMHIK).
Khimiao also stressed on the need to propagate and expand its activities to the other districts that were not covered while assuring help from the department to carry forward the programme in reaching out to the people.
The official also informed that mental health and mental illness is when the mental, spiritual and physical condition have an imbalance with the social and environmental condition in which a person lives.
He pointed out that mental illness can hit people in different ways — with population increase, cut throat competition, more industrialisation going hand in hand, which he added compounded with the insurgents and the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, speaking about the theme, ‘Mental health in an unequal world’, Dr. Viketoulie Pienyü, psychotherapist and Senior Medical Officer at Nagaland State Mental Health Institute, said the objective of WMHD was to create awareness about mental health issues, improve access to mental health care services, and remove stigma and discrimination.
He added that the objectives of Mental Health Day is also to help patients live in dignity by improving the quality of life and also enforce government policies to treat mental health as priority and invest more in this sector.
He stated that the effects of the pandemic induced lockdown had led to a global crisis on all fronts- health crisis, educational crisis, economic crisis, political crisis and mental health crisis. He also pointed out the reality of inequality, existing in the society with the gap between rich and poor, high and lows, and discrimination on factors such as sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender and disability leading to unequal access to mental health services.
Dr. Pienyü asserted that economic inequality leads to social inequality which causes ‘status anxiety’ leading to low self-confidence and self-esteem.
He added that income inequality leads to poor access to quality education which leads to social inequality, while he pointed out that social inequality can negatively impact social cohesion and increase the risks of chronic stress and crimes.
Scientific studies have confirmed that people coming from lower economic strata have higher risks of developing mental illness, said the health practitioner.
In this regard, he asserted the need for united global response to reduce inequality and put forth various suggestions — to understand local population needs and stand up for inequality while also encourage NGO’s and activists to intervene and help build social connections and create awareness among the communities to reduce stigma and discrimination.
He highlighted the need to support and make services available and accessible for all patients free of costs and make legal services accessible.
The official also shared on the role of the church to act as buffer against inequalities by way of supporting the marginal and eradicating the social discrimination and advocating ‘social acceptance’.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, Dr. Temsulong Pongener said World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 to fight against social stigma, educate people by way of advocacy and create awareness about mental health. He added that from 1994 onwards, the celebration started with different themes to celebrate World Mental health.
He exuded hope that with the programme, it would create more awareness for people suffering from mental illness and do away with discrimination with the awareness and advocacy.
Medokhrie Therie from Kohima District Legal Services Authority (KDLSA) spoke on Mental Health Care Act 2017 while panel lawyer Asenla Walling from KDLSA also highlighted the various services available for the citizens and what the legal services authority offers and provides to the citizens.
Songs were presented by Tsuktsenla Longchar, Medozelhou and artists from St. Joseph College (SJC) Jakhama.