According to mental health experts in the city, India would do well with similar support, removing prejudices and improving accessibility. Increased governmental support is crucial following the shutdown and the effects it caused on the public’s mental health, they said.
“We have seen increased cases of depression, anxiety, and stress due to personal and professional issues over the course of the pandemic. This is an important reason why the government must take mental health seriously. There was an increased budget for mental health in this year’s budget but having a ministry dedicated to mental health will help break down the prejudices surrounding it, which will help in people seeking out the help they need,” said Dr Siddhika Ayyer, consultant psychiatrist, Gleneagles Global Health City.
Being separated from their peers and the school environment due to the lockdown have taken a toll on the mental health of children also, leading them to anxiety and depression. The absence of physical interaction and association with the teachers and classmates is adding to the burden.
Instead of a Minister of Loneliness, local experts said a ministry dedicated to mental health or a section of the Health Ministry would help improve accessibility to mental help. This department can lay down measures and methods surrounding mental health services that private and public institutions can follow, which will lead to easier access, they said.
“Similar to what the Ministry of AYUSH does, there can be efforts made by the central government in breaking down incorrect impressions or false information surrounding mental health. Having research that proves the effects of various treatments will help increase awareness on the various options available,” said Dr R Vasanth, a local psychiatrist.
Experts state that there is a need to address increased reports of depression and anxiety among the general public, especially among the younger demographic, who is particularly vulnerable at this time.