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World Mental Health Day: Nobody wants to talk about mental illness

By Purnungba Longkumer Updated: Oct 09, 2021 10:32 pm
Diethono Nakhro speaking on the occasion of World Mental Health Day in Dimapur on Saturday. (EM Images)

Our Reporter
Dimapur, Oct. 9 (EMN):
State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Nagaland, Diethono Nakhro on Saturday asserted that mental health is a vital issue at the best of times, but the need for meaningful community support has become even more relevant as people navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

Nakhro was speaking at an event organised by Community Mental Health Programme (Prodigals’ Home) on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, in collaboration with the office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and Dimapur District Legal Service Authority, at Tourist Lodge in Dimapur.

She shared that the silver lining of the pandemic is that it has ‘somewhat advanced’ the mental health narrative and brought to the fore the urgent need to put the necessary support in place to help those experiencing mental health problems.

She stated that there’s so much stigma, misinformation and shame attached to mental illness that ‘no one seems to want to talk about it openly’.

‘One way to tackle the situation is that they need more conversations. And these valuable conversations can lead to people feeling less alone in their suffering and can reduce the silence and shame around certain mental health struggles,’ she added.

She said that this year’s theme ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World,’ was chosen to highlight the unequal access to mental health services, with 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders unable to access these services at all.

She lamented that many people with mental illness do not receive the treatment they are entitled to and deserve, and together with their families and carers, continue to experience stigma and discrimination. 

‘Research evidence also shows that there is a deficiency in the quality of care provided to people with mental health problems,’ she added.

Furthermore, she said that stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health issues not only affects a person’s physical and mental health, but also affects one’s educational opportunities, current and future earning and job prospects.

She stated that these disparities must be addressed so that people with lived experience of mental health illnesses are fully integrated in all aspects of life.

Meanwhile, Nakhro informed that Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides access to mental healthcare as a right and the state government has been asked to get it notified and start implementation within a given period of time. She expressed hope that this will be complied with, ‘but it shouldn’t be about a court order only’.

She also called upon the state government to immediately put the machinery in place, establish the statutory agencies and begin the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act in earnest and told the gathering that a collaborative effort is the need of the hour — policymakers, regulators, civil society and investment in institutional support mechanisms like hospitals, treatment centres, qualified healthcare support and community support mechanisms

At the event, Chief Judicial Magistrate (IC) and secretary of Dimapur District Legal Service Authority, BP Resu said that the Mental Health Act 2017 aims to provide mental healthcare services to persons with mental illness and ensure that such persons live with dignity without being discriminated against or harassed.

He also highlighted the key differences the Mental Health Act of 1987 and 2017, informing that under the latter (enacted Act), a person suffering from any kind of mental disability or disorder is not required to be armed with a reception order from a judicial magistrate to be admitted in a mental hospital.

Field Co-ordinator of Community Mental Health Programme (CHMP), K Sani said that CHMP is a project related to mental health implementation by Prodigals’ Home and covers Chümoukedima block.

Sani added that under Chümoukedima block, 224 patients have been identified, 101 enrolled, 56 community awareness programmes have been conducted, and three trainings on identifications with Asha and Anganwadi workers. It has also conducted one-day workshops on Mental Health Act 2017 with DDLSA, Police and Health department.

He further informed that under the programme, two children were placed at childcare institutions in Chümoukedima and rescued one mentally ill woman and placed her in a mental home centre at Golaghat, Assam with help from Sakhi One Stop Centre, Dimapur.

Sani added that the CHMP focuses on four disorders — common mental disorder (anxiety, depression etc), severe mental illness (schizophrenia, bi-polar, etc.), intellectual disabilities and convulsive epilepsy.

He also informed that the CHMP project is supported by Azim Premji Foundation with technical support from Ashadeep Society, Guwahati

An official music video “Moi Kumzor nahoi” by Sunep Lemtur was also released at the event.

By Purnungba Longkumer Updated: Oct 09, 2021 10:32:41 pm