A nationwide survey concluded that the mental health in West Bengal is among the worst out of all the states surveyed. National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) conducted a National Mental Health Survey in 2016 held, which included 12 states of India. The survey concluded that West Bengal is the fourth worst state when it comes to mental health. According to this survey, almost 13% (1.25 crore people) of the people of West Bengal suffer from mental health issues. Furthermore, around 1.8% of the state’s population suffers from a severe mental health disorder.
Almost 1% of the population was observed having a high risk of suicide. Neurotic and stress-related disorders affected 3.5% of the population, 3.1% people suffered from anxiety and related disorders, whereas 2.7% suffered from depressive disorder. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders affected 0.4% of the people, and 0.8% people suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and another 2.8% from mood disorder.
Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, has a rich historical background and a lively culture and traditions. It was earlier called Calcutta, and was an important trading center in the Britishers’ rule. Let’s have a look at its mental health state.
Over the past couple of years, due to the Covid pandemic, many people in Kolkata are grappling with mental health issues such as depression and loneliness. According to Sanjay Garg, consultant at Department of Mental and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, in an interview with the Times of India (TOI) mentioned specifically the elder population and their problems. He stated that most older people do not have the knowledge to operate technological devices, and hence find it difficult to stay up to date with all the updates and news related to covid. He also suggested that such elderly people should remain in touch with their family and friends, keeping their mind occupied and being physically active, which will prove to be good for their overall well-being.
Tathagata Chatterjee, founder and MD of Sahayta Clinic told TOI that the stigma around mental health and seeking mental health support is slowly dissipating, and one can now find help for issues related to stress and anxiety.
A 2020 comparative study by Dey et al. aimed at understanding mental health-related stigma among people in urban Kolkata. It was found that the group which was trained and made aware about mental health had better knowledge and understanding compared to those which were not taught anything about mental health. This demonstrates that an intervention wherein awareness about mental health is made amongst the general public is highly beneficial. Community based mental health interventions will hence prove to be highly effective in spreading awareness about mental health issues in Kolkata, which will also help in reducing the stigma around seeking mental health support.
The same study also observed that 29.6% of the participants thought that visiting a psychiatrist or psychologist means that an individual has a mental illness. This clearly suggests that a percentage of the people of Kolkata are still not able to seek mental health support due to this associated stigma.
List of well established mental health institutes in Kolkata
- Mental Health Foundation Kolkata– MHF Kalkata works in partnership to overcome learning, emotional, behavioral and developmental issues in childhood and psychological and psychiatric problems in adulthood and across the life span.
- Caring Minds Institute of Mental Health– It is a state-of-the-art centre for psychological growth, the first of its kind in Kolkata, where our mental health professionals provide their expert services for issues both clinical and non-clinical at our institute.
- Antara Global– The Mission of ANTARA is to alleviate suffering of people afflicted with mental illness, addiction and alcoholism, especially destitute and poor.
- National Institute of Behavioural Sciences– It is a voluntary organization (NGO) registered under West Bengal Societies Registration Act 1961 since 1989. It is involved in health related activities pertaining to psychological as well as physical. NIBS has been running outdoor patient clinics for the treatment of mentally sick patients and the drug dependents, at 7 & 8 CIT Road, Kolkata – 700014 (near Moulali).
- Sane and Enthusiast Volunteers Association of Calcutta (SEVAC)– It came into existence in 1991 with a vow to cater to the needs of the persons with mental illness putting emphasis on their uninterrupted treatment, rehabilitation and human rights promotion. Since its inception, SEVAC has been implementing a multidimensional project in order to bring a change in the existing mental health scenario of the country .
Gupta, S. (2016, December 5). 13% in Bengal Have Poor Mental Health: Survey – Times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved from https://m-timesofindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/13-in-bengal-have-poor-mental-health-survey/amp_articleshow/55804690.cms?amp_js_v=a6&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#aoh=16460179589307&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s
Understanding of mental health-related stigma among people in urban Kolkata. 2020. Dey S., Ganguli B., Khemka G.C., Roy S.D., Roy L., Chakrabartty A., Ali K.M., Dey A. Vol25. 2. 106-112. https://www.jmhhb.org/article.asp?issn=0971-8990;year=2020;volume=25;issue=2;spage=106;epage=112;aulast=Dey
Yengkhom, S. (2021, January 13). Kolkata: Time to reach out to mental health patients, say experts – times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved from https://m-timesofindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.timesofindia.com/city/kolkata/kolkata-time-to-reach-out-to-mental-health-patients-say-experts/amp_articleshow/80246059.cms?amp_js_v=a6&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#aoh=16460178415539&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s