President inaugurates 21st World Congress of mental health
November 3, 2017

The 21st World Congress of Mental Health was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on 2 November 2017.

The conference was organised by the World Federation for Mental Health in partnership with Caring Foundation and other institutions.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the World Congress of Mental Health is taking place in India for the first time and it has come here at an appropriate moment.

About World Congress of Mental Health 2017

• The World Congress of Mental Health will be held in New Delhi from 2-5 November 2017.
• The main theme of the conference is ‘Partnerships for Mental Health’.
• The conference is expected to witness participation from over 300 international delegates, representing around 50 nations from across the world.
• In total, over thousands of delegates representing various sectors including psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, nurses, social workers, public health experts, community leaders as well as government representatives are expected to take part in the event.
• The World Congress will have sessions on yoga, meditation and traditional approaches to mental health.
• Other events include mind training, plenary symposium on mental health related topics, mental health film festival and special sessions on children and adolescents.
• The conference would also have a special session on the role of yoga in battling anxiety and depression and in preventing the onset of mental health problems.

Background

• Mental health issues are acquiring a serious magnitude in India.
• The National Mental Health Survey 2016 found that close to 14 per cent of India’s population required active mental health interventions.
• The most vulnerable age group to mental illness has been found to be those living in metropolitan cities and those who are young – whether in the productive age group, children and teenagers.
• With 65 per cent of India’s population being below the age of 35, it makes the country most vulnerable to mental illness

Key Challenges

• The main obstacle for mental health patients is the social stigma attached to it, which keeps them in denial. This leads to the issue being ignored or simply not discussed.
• Another major challenge in combating mental health problem is that of human resources.
• India has a population of 1.25 billion, but only 700,000 among them are doctors. The scarcity is even more acute in the field of mental health.
• There are only about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists in the country.

Efforts to combat mental health

• India’s National Mental Health Programme will be building 22 centres of excellence in the field of mental health.
• The District Mental Health Programme has already covered 517 of the approximately 650 districts in India.
• The programme is taking the conversation on mental health to the grassroots of the society.