President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday called for a time-bound programme that ensures quickest possible access to mental health diagnosis and treatment services for every person in need.
Quoting the National Mental Health Survey 2016, Kovind said close to 14 per cent of India's population required active mental health intervention.
"About two per cent suffered from severe mental disorders. Nearly two hundred thousand (two lakh) Indians take their own lives each year. If one includes attempted suicides, the number goes up substantially," said Kovind inaugurating the 21st World Congress of Mental Health here.
Terming the statistics on mental health as worrying, Kovind said those living in metropolitan cities and the young -- whether in the productive age group or children and teenagers -- were most vulnerable to mental illnesses.
"We have a young population, with 65 per cent of our people below the age of 35. And our society is rapidly urbanising. This leaves us staring at a possible mental health epidemic," said Kovind.
Calling for more human resource to tackle the major gap in combating the mental health challenge, Kovind said despite a 1.25 billion population, India had only seven lakh doctors - less than a million.
"In the field of mental health, the scarcity is even more acute. There are only about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists in our country," Kovind pointed out.
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