ICMR, the Indian council for Medical research had called for proposals, under GACD (Global alliance focusing on implementation of chronic disease) banner, for the implementation of research in mental health like child and adolescents and adult age disorder alcohol and drug use disorders. April 11 was the last day for submission of concept proposals.
Health experts including psychiatrists have welcomed this move. Doctors say this could help them in identifying and treating the patients and to make all stakeholders aware about mental illness.
Dr Harish Shetty, Senior Psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai said, “There is lot of talk about mental illness but we don’t have proper data, and research work. Evidence is extremely important. There is a need to strengthen the evidence base, for effective treatment and promotion of mental health and the early identification and management of people at risk of / or living with a mental disorder, taking into account the needs of different population groups across the course of a lifetime”.
Proposals must focus on mental disorders as defined by the World Health Organisation. As per WHO’s definition ‘Mental health is an integral part of health as underlined in the WHO definition of health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.
“Chronic mental illness cause tremendous suffering for an individual, family, society. It increases burden at all level. They also increase the risk of co-morbid illnesses and social exclusion. There are obstacles in effective prevention, early detection, ensuring patient adherence to therapies. All this can be avoided if we have good study and research in this particular subject,” said Dr Sanjay Kumawat, Ex-deputy director and superintendent of mental hospital, Thane
“It will help to know the target population to address and work accordingly. Also to provide services at the community level that can prevent the gap for the kind of challenges which are pose by long standing mental illness which keeps them away from the mainstream society. Hence, research is very important to take preventive measures,” he said.
GACD aims to coordinate research on chronic diseases at a global level in order to enhance knowledge exchange across individual projects, and to better understand the impact of socio-economic, cultural, geopolitical and policy factors on the effectiveness and scalability of interventions, so as to appropriately adapt health interventions to different geographical, economic and cultural settings.
Research under GACD involves regular exchange of research findings and information across participating projects by means of cross-project working groups and annual joint meetings.
Dr Sagar Karia, Joint Secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Society said, “We lack good research, studies and data in mental health subject. Such kind of research is helpful to treat the patient. It will also help in knowing the incidents and prevalence of mental illness among children or adult population to take precautionary steps and to know the patterns of drug users”.
He added further, “Once we get the details we can work on spreading awareness among teachers to make them aware about existence of mental illness, because most of the time what we see in schools is teachers who do not accept that a child is addicted to drugs. Along with teachers it will help to educate parents and various stakeholders of the society”.
Explaining the current situation of mental health he says that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, dementia cases are increasing which these are long standing illnesses. To control this growing numbers research is vital.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience is a premier medical institution located in Bangalore (NIMHANS) estimates, India has more than 7 crore persons with mental health problems. There are only 43 government-run mental hospitals and approximately 3500 psychiatrists serving a population of 1.2 billion. There is need to bring evidence based preventive and management strategies to take care of huge number of persons with mental health problems.
The research subject is significant as mental disorders represent an ever-increasing burden, to all ages of the population, challenging mental health and health systems. For example, depression affects 350 million people in communities across the world and represents the third leading contributor to the global disease burden. Dementia affects 47.5 million people worldwide with 58% of people living with dementia in low- and middle-income countries. Global costs associated with mental disorders were estimated to be $2.4 trillion in 2010 and are expected to rise to $5.8 trillion by 2030.
GACD is a collection of the world’s biggest public research funding agencies focusing on implementation research in chronic diseases. ICMR is one of the members of this alliance and partners in calling for proposals in one identified area; and the current focus is on mental health.