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22nd June 2023 (7 Topics)

Spare a thought for psychiatric caregivers too


  • According to National Health Mission estimates, 6%­7% of India’s population su?ers from mental disorders. Without proper diagnosis, the patient and their families keep su?ering as mental health responses remain mired in myths, stigmas, and taboos.

Reasons for caregiver stress:

  • Physical and Emotional caregiving- The caregiver is under considerable stress because of the physical and emotional caregiving along with the social isolation.
  • Patient reaction to treatment- A patient’s non­adherence to treatment, prevalent in such cases, further exacerbates caregiver stress.
  • Support for psychiatric treatment- Women caregivers face challenges in balancing myriad activities and are less likely to receive informal support for psychiatric treatment.

Need for structured intervention:

  • Policies neglecting caregiver- The National Mental Health Programme and the decentralized District Mental Health Programme remain focused on the patient but neglect the caregiver.
  • Spread Awareness- Given the prolonged distress experienced by caregivers, it is essential to introduce a structured intervention programme to educate and support the caregivers of psychiatric patients.
  • Insu?cient budget allocation- Insu?cient budget allocation for mental health patients also raises concerns of developing intervention for psychiatric care­givers.

Way Forward:

  • Effective partnership needed- A comprehensive treatment of severe psychiatric illnesses in the future would need building e?ective partnerships between health­care professionals, informal caregivers, and psychosocial interventions, where required.
  • Mental Healthcare Act 2017- The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 provided a corrective step with the mandate to treat mental disorders on a par with physical disorders for insurance coverage.
  • Increasing Private Insurers- Government schemes provided by public sector insurance companies provide coverage for mental disorders. However, coverage by private insurers remains limited.
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