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Affected Indian youth not getting mental illness treatment

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Rohit Shishodia
Mental health experts have expressed concern over the fact that youngsters in India do not get treatment for mental illness due to lack of awareness and lack of facilities.

The doctors have said that around 20% to 25% out of 35 crore youngsters in India are affected with various mental disorders. One-fifth of them suffer from depression.

The other disorders include mood disorders, depression, substance abuse and internet addiction. This age group is from 10 to 24 years.

Dr Prof RK Chadda, HOD, Department of Psychiatry, Delhi-AIIMS, told DTMT that lack of awareness, lack of mental health facilities, stigma and myths associated with mental illness are the main reasons that youngsters are not getting treatment.

Dr Chadda said that people assume that alcohol consumption or smoking is a habit or an addiction but they do not seek its treatment. “They do not consider them as diseases, so they do not go for treatment. There is a treatment gap for mental illness. Around 80% to 90% youngsters are not getting treatment due to lack of accessibility to treatment facilities or lack of awareness,” added Dr Chadda.

“We have seen a case that a person living in AIIMS campus and suffering from serious mental illness for twenty years did not seek treatment. This needs to be addressed,” said Dr Chadda.

Dr Chadda advised that this age group is very productive for the country. So, there is need for urgent intervention, so these youth get treatment for their mental disorders.

“Refraining from alcohol, regular exercise and practicing Yoga can reduce mild anxiety or mild depression. One can see one's family physician. If needed, the family physician will refer the patient to a physicist,” said Dr Chadda.

Dr Anju Dhawan from National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, Delhi-AIIMS, said that adolescents have been found using various substances such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and inhalant drugs that include sniffing glue. Usage of these substances neurologically affect the children.

Dr Dhawan shared that it is seen that school going children are using sniffing glue. This has increased in children who have come to AIIMS. She advised that use of alcohol and driving  should be discouraged.

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