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Lack of psychiatrists a concern: Ghulam Nabi Azad

There is a dearth of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in India, and that is a cause of concern. There is urgent need to address the shortfall, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday.

There are 43 government-run mental hospitals and institutions in 22 provinces of the country and 381 medical colleges. Both government and private hospitals have psychiatry departments, but the dearth of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is a major cause of concern, Azad said, while inaugurating a conference on child and adolescent psychiatry in India.

Quoting a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Azad said that in India the rate of psychiatric disorder in children aged between 4 to 16 years is about 12 percent, and nearly one-third of the population is less than 14 years of age.

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He noted that similar studies from all over the world have indicated that around 15 percent of children suffer from significant mental health problems, affecting their functioning. Studies from Asia have shown that 10-20 percent of children and adolescents have significant mental health problems. (Read: 77% people who suffer from mental health issues never get treated: Experts)

Azad expressed happiness that the health ministry was able to support 11 centres of excellence and establish psychiatry units as well as departments of psychiatric social work and nursing which resulted in additional capacity creation of more than 1,750 professionals throughout the country.

The health minister said that the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore will mentor and support child and adolescent mental health services that will be started at six new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and centres of excellence under the national mental health programme.

The three-day conference is being attended by 110 foreign delegates from 24 countries, as well as leading doctors and psychiatrists from India. (Read: Psychiatry must be included in MBBS syllabus: Experts)

Source: IANS

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