To address the growing issue of mental health illness during the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, the Mental Health Foundation of India (MHFI) has launched an exclusive web portal for comprehensive mental health care (MiHOPE) focussing on the treatment of mental illness for the people.
The web portal is all set to become functional from October 10 and people can access it online consultations with support from doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).”Mental health issues were a major cause of suffering and contributed to the global burden of disease long before COVID-19 pandemic. However, the collective experience of virus pandemic–‘exacerbated’ symptoms of poor mental health such as anxiety, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal tendencies and so on. Also, the general access to health care and especially mental health care has been massively impacted and hampered in this coronavirus crisis time,” Dr Nand Kumar, professor of the psychiatry department at AIIMS told ANI while deliberating Mental Health Access Summit 2020 organized by AIIMS through virtual conferencing.
“This year due to COVID-19 pandemic–we have witnessed unprecedented difficulty in accessing mental health care by all sections of society due to adhering to the norms of social distancing, enforced globally,” he said.
“Hence, the web portal will help people to overcome stress-related disorders and prevention of the emotional and mental health problems by various scientific means such as– diet, yoga, meditation and other lifestyle changes,” said Dr Kumar.
According to experts present Mental Health Access Summit 2020 , the majority of mental health issues are treatable conditions just like any other physical illness. However, unlike availing treatment for physical conditions, people fail to seek help for their own emotional problem. They pointed out it is due to poor awareness and the intangible nature of mental health issues. Further, experts mentioned that there is still a stigma in people which deters them from availing the medical treatment at the right time.
A study published in the leading medical journal of Psychotherapy and Psychomatics has noted that (COVID-19) pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health. The study on 1,591 participants has assessed the psychopathological symptoms and sense of coherence (SOC) before and after the COVID-19 outbreak.
The findings revealed that about 10 percent experienced a clinically significant increase in psychopathological symptoms. The study pointed out that Individuals with high levels of SOC perceive life as comprehensible and manageable and believe that life challenges reflect a potential source of growth.
The Mental Health Access Summit also focused on structural barriers to accessing treatment for mental health problems for example–lack of mental health professionals and inadequate recognition to mental healthcare.Dr Rajesh Sagar, head of the psychiatry department at AIIMS said: “Lot of efforts are being made at different levels to create awareness on mental health problems so that people in distress can talk on their issues. We have been doing telemedicine facilities to provide medical service to our patients since March in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need of the hour is community mobilization to tackle the emerging problem of mental health illness in India.”
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