Bhubaneswar: With more than 1.1 lakh of Odisha’s population living with some form of mental illness, the lack of adequate number of qualified doctors, health institutions and dedicated shelter homes has become a cause of concern.
Getting access to mental health care has become an arduous task for many as the Mental Health Institute at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack is the only mental health institution in the state providing services not only to the patients of Odisha but also those from the neighbouring states. An activist, working in issues pertaining to mental health, said, “One can easily spot mentally ill people on railway stations and deserted places in rural areas untreated. This is just because of the lack of facilities and much required treatment.”
He also said added, “Most of them are not rehabilitated and there is also lack of proper shelter homes for them. They neither get proper treatment at government hospitals at district level nor do they have other adequate facilities for improvement in their mental condition. Many are deserted by their families.” According to the data tabled in Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while some states have multiple regional mental health care centres, the state is laggard when it comes to establishment of mental health care institutions.
The Union government’s response as given July 29,2019, said while West Bengal has six mental health institutions, Gujarat and Maharashtra has four each, Uttar Pradesh three, the eastern state of Odisha has only one such institute.
People working with the government and those dealing with the target community and other differently-abled population claim works are on to take care of the vulnerable community. Speaking to Orissa POST, Ram Kishore Sharma, Assistant Director, National Career Service Centre for the Differently-Abled (NCSCDA) said, “Works have been started on behalf of the government to have integrated campuses in the state where more facilities will be built at district levels.”
“Such campuses which have been envisioned in every district in 25 acres of land each can cater to the issues of shelter to the mentally ill and their treatment and rehabilitation,” he added.
Sharma also revealed that the recognition of mental illness as one of the forms of disability as per the new central law on disability is likely to pave way for reservations and ensure their right to treatment.