Mental health, media role discussed

People with mental illness need more attention, care and support during disasters

Kathmandu, November 10

At least 15 people commit suicide daily in the country. According to Nepal Police, as many as 5,785 people committed suicide in 2018-2019.  However, 5,754 suicide cases were registered in the year.

There is always a difference between the number of suicide cases and registered suicide cases as suicides in groups are counted as single case. As many as 5,346 people committed suicide in 2017-2018, but only 5,317 suicide cases were registered in the year.

“Biological, psychological, family circumstances, social, physical health condition and genetic vulnerabilities are some of the causes for a person to commit suicide,” said Dr Basudev Karki, consultant psychiatrist.

“Despite rising cases of mental health problems, there are only 11 consultant psychiatrists and two child psychiatrists working at government health institutions across the country,” said Dr Phanindra Prasad Baral, chief of Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Section at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Department of Health Services.

Addressing a programme on ‘Role of Media in Mental Health, Epidemic and Disaster Management’, organised in the capital today, speakers in the event shed light on the causes, treatment methods and ways of prevention of mental health problems; national policy on mental health and the role of media in disseminating information to the public.

Speakers at the event also discussed how people with mental illness were vulnerable during disasters. “Disasters may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people after the Gorkha earthquake suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, people with mental illness need more attention, care and support during disasters,” said Badri Prasad Khadka, director of Province 3 Health Training Centre.

Shedding light on mental health problems, speakers shared how media could help in preventing fear and anxiety, inform and educate people about mental health problems and also help in disseminating information to the public.

“Responsive health journalism can play a significant role in informing the public of mental health disorder due to disaster and on the ways to prevent and cope with the problem,” said Khadka.