Kanti starts child and adolescent mental health OPD
"Psychiatric and psychological treatments, counselling and medication will be available at OPD."
— Dr Arun Raj Kunwar, child and adolescent psychiatrist
Kathmandu, July 22
Kanti Children’s Hospital, Maharjgunj, has started child and adolescent mental health OPD, first in the country.
Dr Arun Raj Kunwar, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Kanti Children’s Hospital, said the currently the OPD service will be open for public every day except on public holidays from 9am to 2pm.
According to Dr Kunwar, earlier Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital used to provide half-day service — on Mondays and Thursdays — to the children and adolescent with mental health problems.
According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide 10 to 20 per cent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s.
Dr Kunwar said the new OPD will provide psychiatric and psychological treatments, counselling and medication to the needy.
Stating that there was lack of human resources for mental health treatment, Dr Kunwar stressed on the need to strengthen human resources and raise awareness among parents and teachers about mental health issues of children and adolescents. “Level of awareness among parents about mental health problems is still very low in Nepal,” said Dr Kunwar.
Dr Kunwar said one of the goals of starting the new OPD is to develop training programmes so that human resources can be trained to provide services to affected children and adolescents.
According to Dr Kunwar, 90 per cent students in schools have some kind of anxiety or other problems but they are never identified by their parents and teachers, hence children remain untreated. “School is the right place to intervene to address mental health problem in children and adolescents,” Dr Kunwar added.
According to WHO, neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading cause of disability in young people in all regions and if untreated, these conditions severely influence children’s development, their educational attainments and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives.
Children with mental disorders face major challenges with stigma, isolation and discrimination as well as lack of access to health care and education facilities, in violation of their fundamental human rights, says WHO.
The new child and adolescent mental health OPD has three psychiatrists — Dr Kunwar, Dr Jasmine Ma and Jaya Regmi — and Narmada Devkota, a psychological counsellor.