Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood, says mentalhealth.gov. 

With changing health patterns among Indians, mental, behavioural and substance use disorders are coming to the fore in health care delivery systems. These disorders contribute for significant morbidity, disability and even mortality amongst those affected. Due to the prevailing stigma, these disorders often are hidden by the society and consequently persons with mental disorders lead a poor quality of life. Though unmeasured, the social and economic impact of these conditions is huge.

A new index developed to assess each country’s achievement on a range of health indicators ranks India at 143 in a list of 188 countries, six places ahead of Pakistan and way behind countries like Sri Lanka (79), China (92), even war-torn Syria (117) and Iraq (128).

The National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) (2015-16) is a milestone in understanding the epidemiology of mental disorders in the country. It was undertaken to understand the burden and patterns of mental health problems, examine treatment gap, health care utilization patterns, disability and impact amongst those affected. It is one of the largest mental health “Research and Action” oriented study undertaken in recent times across 12 states of India. 

It is found that as much as 13.7 per cent of Indians are suffering from some or other kind of mental ailments. About 10 per cent of them are in need of immediate intervention.  The results from the NMHS point to the huge burden of mental health problems: while, nearly 150 million Indians need mental health care services, less than 30 million are seeking care; the mental health systems assessment indicate not just a lack of public health strategy but also several under-performing components. 

NMHS by providing the much needed scientific rigour to plan, develop and implement better mental health care services in India in the new millennium, has hence termed its report as “Prevalence, Patterns and Outcomes” and “Mental Health Systems”