Patients find it awkward to ask for help from the psychiatrists, says study

Last week, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind stated that the country is reeling under the issue of serious mental health epidemic. Further pointing at the lack of mental health interventions in the country, he also pointed out that according to the National Mental Health Survey of 2016; nearly 14 per cent of the country’s population requires mental health interventions. Now, a study reaffirms that visiting a psychiatrist is still very awkward

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Our focus is on whether we need a psychiatrist these days, with so much pressure on the mind not merely because of stress but also due to another obvious reason which can hold a person back from resorting to pay a visit to the healers of the mind, and what likely is the reason?

 It is taboo and often regarded as social embarrassment. It becomes a matter of their image and people simply end up avoiding a visit to the psychiatrist no matter how serious the illness and  the cause is  being hesitance and fear of being considered insane by their counterparts. Now, a study reaffirms that visiting a psychiatrist is still very awkward.

The study focuses on five cities in the country and how people there perceive a visit to psychiatrist- Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Mumbai. ‘Stigmatisation and overall scarcity of psychiatrists and other mental health-care professionals remain a huge public health challenge in low- and middle-income countries, more specifically in India’, stated the study.

One of the underlying causes of mental health help’s stigma seems to be the repeated denial to get help. “Denial as well as stigma is very much a reality in our society, even today. The first meeting with a patient is always awkward because they find it weird to ask for help from psychiatrists. However, the younger generation seems to be more open,” said Dr Parul Tank, Consultant Psychiatrist at Asian Heart, Mumbai and Fortis Hospital who is also the head of the psychiatry department at Rajawadi Hospital.

She added, “There is very little awareness regarding mental health even among other medical professionals. Once that increases, it will be very easy to tackle the stigma also.”

The study also added that, most patients seek help from faith healers first, and awareness about psychiatrists and treatment methods is often lacking.“Well, earlier these beliefs about faith healers were much stronger than what it is now. Surely, we can’t say it has completely gone,” said Dr Kersi Chavda, a consultant psychiatrist from PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre.

He also added that the stigma around psychiatrists will also fade away with time.