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Old October 4th, 2001, 03:43 PM
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Red face Mental disorders on the rise in Mumbai

Aparna is 13 years old and has been making regular trips to a psychiatrist for the last three months. The reason for her visit is not any physical ailment, but frequent bouts of anxiety.

Mental disorder is no longer restricted to elders. So it’s not surprising that the appalling trend has prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare 2001 as the Year of Mental Health. Like most other metros the world over, Mumbai seems to have a high number of mental disorder cases with almost every section of society getting affected.

“The mental health of city denizens is going from bad to worse,” says psychiatrist Anjali Chabria. “The ever-increasing workload and stress levels in a fast-paced city like Mumbai has taken its toll.” Psychiatrist Anand Nadkarni says, “Due to the metropolis’ physical conditions, individuals’ personal space is getting encroached, leading to lower tolerance.” It is estimated that nearly 12 lakh Mumbaiites suffer from mental problems.
Most doctors feel that despite the alarming rise in the number of mental health patients, Mumbai has been unable to cope with the problem due to lack of adequate infrastructure and medical facilities. Public hospitals in the city have only 150 beds for such patients.

Says Dr Harish Shetty, “Mental health receives stepmotherly treatment in both private and public hospitals.” He adds, “Every school should have a counsellor; the cost involved is lower than even maintaining a computer, roughly 25 paise per student. And this could solve much of the problem. With NGOs coming in, things are looking better.”

Besides, there is widespread denial of the problem. However, the stigma attached to mental problems is waning, feel some experts. “People today are more open to the idea of going to doctors if they have genial problems,” says Chabria. “This is a healthy trend and fewer people resort to faith healers for answers. But it’s yet to pick up.”
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