Updated: December 24, 2019 4:16:18 am
Roughly one in seven Indians, or 197 million people, suffered from mental disorders of varying severity in 2017. Of these, 45.7 million had depression and 44.9 million had anxiety disorders.
These are some of the findings of the first comprehensive estimates of disease burden due to mental disorders and their trends in every state of India from 1990, published in The Lancet Psychiatry by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative.
According to the findings, depression and anxiety disorders are the commonest mental disorders in India. Their prevalence is increasing and is relatively higher in the southern states and in females.
In 2017, 7.6 million people had bipolar disorder, with Goa, Kerala, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh having the highest prevalence. Around 3.5 million had schizophrenia, with the highest prevalence observed in Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi
The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) increased from 2.5 per cent in 1990 to 4.7 per cent in 2017. One DALY is at least one lost year of ‘healthy’ life.
Depression accounted for 33.8 per cent of all mental disorder DALYs in India in 2017, followed by anxiety disorders (19%), idiopathic developmental intellectual disability (10.8%), and schizophrenia (9.8%).
Prof Rajesh Sagar, Professor, AIIMS New Delhi and lead author of the paper, told The Indian Express, “Mental illnesses contribute significantly to the burden of disease in India as reported by this study. There is an urgent need to strengthen mental health services, integrate these with general healthcare, and remove barriers such as stigma and access to treatment. It is time to act at all levels with all stakeholders to bring mental health at the forefront to reduce the burden. An interesting finding is the slower improvement in the burden of childhood mental disorders such as developmental intellectual disability and conduct disorder in the less developed states which should be examined.”
Prof Lalit Dandona, Director of the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, Distinguished Scientist and National Chair of Population Health at ICMR, and Distinguished Research Professor Public Health Foundation of India, who is the senior author of the paper, said, “This study utilising all accessible relevant data from India over the past three decades reports that mental disorders are the leading cause of non-fatal disease burden in India and their contribution to the total disease burden is increasing. The high rate of depression among older adults is of concern, which needs attention, and the significant association of suicide with depression emphasises the need to identify and deal with depression through wider efforts in the community and health system.”
The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden has doubled in India from 1990 to 2017, indicating the need for implementing effective strategies to control it, said Prof Balram Bhargav, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and Director General, ICMR.
Dr Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog said: “This research paper… can guide efforts for more specific health services planning for mental health in each state. Policies and initiatives under Ayushman Bharat including the Health and Wellness Centers and health insurance coverage are crucial in reducing the adverse impact of mental disorders at the population level across India. Community-level mental health care and integration of mental health services with other aspects of healthcare should receive high priority from state governments.”
Prof Christopher J L Murray, Director, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said, “Before state governments can invest substantially more in mental health services, it is imperative that health officials have an accurate accounting of how depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are distributed across the country. This study provides a crucial first step in determining state-by-state need.”
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