Chandigarh, the land of vibrant, hearty and friendly people, is a tier 2 city in the state of Punjab, which serves as the capital of two states: Punjab and Haryana. The World Population Review had estimated the population of Chandigarh to be around 1,169,244 back in 2021. Despite a relatively calmer and easygoing lifestyle most of the people enjoy in Chandigarh, as compared to some of the tier 1 cities like Delhi & Mumbai, the number of people suffering from mental health issues is on the rise, especially since the beginning of the worldwide Covid pandemic.
According to a 2018 study by Dr. Chavan et al. aimed at estimating the prevalence of mental health disorders in Punjab, which was a part of the National Mental Health Survey, 17.94% participants had experienced a mental health disorder in their lifetime, and 13.42% of the participants were currently suffering from a mental health disorder. The percentage is higher in those above the age of 60 and those belonging to rural areas and lower income groups.
Prof BS Chavan, director principal of Government Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh, spoke at the two days national conference of World Association Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR)- Indian Chapter organised at GMCH. Dr. Chavan stated that as much as 13% of Chandigarh’s adult population suffers from commonly diagnosed mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, substance abuse & stress related disorders. Mr. Chavan also stated that another 1% of the population suffers from severe mental disorders.
Mind Unwynd interviewed Yashaswini Khanna, 18, a student of Thapar Institute of Engineering And Technology (TIET), Patiala, Punjab, who is currently residing in Chandigarh. Yashaswini stated that even though the initial phase of the pandemic was difficult for her and her friends, they adjusted to the new scenario swiftly. She expressed her disappointment towards not being able to experience “the college life”, i.e studying in the campus, socialising with college mates and visiting new places around. She also stated that the academic life of students has suffered a lot- “Even though online exams are easier and much more convenient for the students, it takes away the very essence of giving exams after learning everything and not referring to the books during the exams. In the long run, online exams will not be healthy for our academic and professional life.”
GMCH also has helplines for the distressed & troubled. Three 24×7 helplines dedicated towards improving the mental health of pandemic-ridden people of the state received 1300 calls in a little more than 2 months since the first nationwide lockdown was imposed in March’20.
However, Prof Priti Arun, who is in-charge of the psychiatry ward at GMCH, told The Times of India (TOI) in a conversation that most people who called these helplines mainly enquired about Covid related problems and updates, and only a few people talked about their mental health issues. This could be attributed to the hesitation people in our country experience while talking about their mental and emotional issues, owing to the taboo and stereotypes people have in our society.
The mental health helpline numbers of GMCH are ‘18002063’, ‘172-2660078’ and ‘172-2660178’.
However, a positive ray of hope was shone on the students of Chandigarh University during the initial phase of the pandemic. According to a study conducted by Sonika Kanojia with the purpose of understanding the issues faced by the students of Chandigarh University and their parents during Covid-19 lockdown found that the students were relatively happy with the management of the university, with a swift decision of sending the students back to their homes just a few days after the announcement of the lockdown. Furthermore, those who could not move back to their homes were taken good care of by the management staff of the university.
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Chandigarh population 2021. Chandigarh Population 2021 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/chandigarh-population
Chavan, B. S., Das, S., Garg, R., Puri, S., & Banavaram, A. A. (2018). Prevalence of mental disorders in Punjab: Findings from National Mental Health Survey. Indian journal of psychiatry, 60(1), 121–126. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_221_17
Kanojia, S. (2021). A study on the challenges being faced by Chandigarh University students and their parents during covid-19 lockdown. Turkish Journal of Computer and Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT). Retrieved from https://turcomat.org/index.php/turkbilmat/article/view/698
Kanwar, S. (2019, May 18). 13 percent of Chandigarh adult population is suffering from common mental disorders: Chandigarh News – Times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved from https://m.timesofindia.com/city/chandigarh/13-percent-of-chandigarh-adult-population-is-suffering-from-common-mental-disorders/articleshow/69387948.cms
Kanwar, S. (2020, June 18). Chandigarh: Mental health helplines on the mind of a few – times of India. The Times of India. Retrieved from https://m-timesofindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.timesofindia.com/city/chandigarh/chandigarh-mental-health-helplines-on-the-mind-of-a-few/amp_articleshow/76441243.cms?amp_js_v=a6&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#aoh=16427941139255&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s