Mental health relegated to the back-burner

Kathmandu, October 23:

Though mental health issues get priority in other parts of the world, the society and the government both have been ignoring them in Nepal, experts said.

“Mental health is a grave issue but mental health care in nepal is limited to whatever little donation people provide in the name of charity. Besides, mentally ill people are still victims of stigma,” said Dr Surendra Sherchan, director, Mental Hospital, Lalitpur.

The fact mental health issues get little priority in the country is evident from the fact that the World Mental Health Day was celebrated across the world, except Nepal, on October 10, even though the day was not celebrated here partly because of Dashain festival.

“I had been a victim of post-partum depression. If my husband were not a expert on matter of psychological issues, I would have been rendered a miserable life,” said Dr Aruna Upreti, social activist. Many women in villages suffer from severe depression, but lack of awareness

and mental health care services leads them to the adopt to extreme measures like suicides.

The stigma attached to mental disabilities like the use of term ‘mad’ for people suffering from mental problems adds to the woes of such people. “Even doctors are not free from this attitude. What we need to realise is that specialists dealing with mentally disabled people should not only treat the patients but also help the families to deal with the stress,” Upreti says.

The Nepal Mental Health Foundation (NMHF) was established in January this year to raise awareness on mental health issues.

“I suffered from mental illness myself before I formed this organisation. I know the trouble and stress I and my family had to go through. So I want to help other people and their families with similar problems,” said Jagannath Lamichhane, founder NMHF.

“All people have the right to live with dignity and respect. As the disabled people cannot voice their own opinions and fight for their rights, the government should protect their rights,” said Dinesh Tripathi, a lawyer. He also called for ratification of the Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as formation of legal provisions to protect the rights of disabled people.