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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 9  |  Page : 328-329
Covid 19 and access to mental health care – Need of increased investment

Professor of Psychiatry, WBMES and Consultant Psychiatrist, AMRI Hospitals, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission23-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance23-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication28-Sep-2020

How to cite this article:
Singh O P. Covid 19 and access to mental health care – Need of increased investment. Indian J Psychiatry 2020;62, Suppl S3:328-9

How to cite this URL:
Singh O P. Covid 19 and access to mental health care – Need of increased investment. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Nov 28];62, Suppl S3:328-9. Available from:

Mental health conditions are rising all over the world and are leading cause of disability and death. It has huge effect on population mental health with enormous impact on particular groups of individual, including those with preexisting mental illnesses. According to WHO Global health estimate 2016, about 20% of the global disease burden was attributed to mental disorders.[1] Factors accountable for such huge burden include the effect of mental disorders on health, education and employment as most of the disorders arise during adolescent and early adulthood and runs a lifetime course. Suicide is one of the leading cause of death in young people particularly in developing countries. Pandemics are known to cause poor mental well being and an increased risk of mental disorders. Despite the enormity of the problem there is a huge treatment gap. According to National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-2016, treatment gap for mental disorders were reported between 70-92%.[2] The major factors for this massive gap is lack of availability of the psychiatrists and treatment facilities, large distance patients have to travel for treatment and out of pocket expense for the treatment. Although The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 provisioned for insurance for mental disorders, it is still lacking in implementation.[3] The access to proper care has been further impeded by lack of awareness and stigma about mental illnesses which extends not only to mental health services and providers but also to medications.

The current scenario of Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented crisis for the health services at large. The health services were stretched to the limits where the doctors were required to choose between patients to whom ventilators will be provided, thus, bringing a lot of emotional stress. Health care workers are working under constant stress and fear of bringing the virus home and infecting their near and dear ones. Certain groups are at disadvantageous position and are expected to experience disproportionate effects on mental health due to Covid 19 include individuals with pre-existing mental disorders, migrant laborers, refugees, older people living in residential settings as well as health professionals and carers[4]. To contain the epidemic, lockdown was implemented in many countries which lead to social isolation and marginalization of deprived and underprivileged groups like migrant laborers who bore the burnt of hardship. Daily wedge laborers comprise about 23% of total suicides in India[5] and this pandemic is likely to aggravate their plight and would increase their mental health problems. The economic burden of the pandemic with job loss and decreased income is expected to be a significant cause of rise of mental health conditions. People already suffering with mental health conditions had faced greater isolation, hardship and lack of care.

Series of surveys conducted by Indian Psychiatric Society brought forward alarming results of rise of mental health conditions with more than two fifth of people experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms due to ongoing pandemic and lockdown. At the same time pandemic and lockdown have led to collapse of mental health services in Government Hospitals, Teaching Institutes[6] and also in private sectors. [7] To fill the gap Tele Psychiatry services have been upgraded to increase the availability of mental health services to some extent.

The theme of World Mental Health Day 2020 is, Mental Health for All Greater Investment – Greater Access- Everyone, Everywhere which is very apt considering the current situation.[8] There is a significant need of increasing investment in mental health services to prevent and manage the expected tsunami of mental health issues and to make mental health services accessible to everyone at every place.

This issue of the journal tries to bring experiences of different countries across the globe for readers and researchers. The vast knowledge and experience of various countries will enable us to formulate strategies for reducing gap and increasing access to mental health services.

   References Top

WHO: Global health estimates 2016: Disease burden by cause, age, sex, by country and by region; 2000–2016.  Back to cited text no. 1
National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-2016: Prevalence, Patterns and Outcomes, Supported by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and Implemented by National institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Bengaluru: In Collaboration with Partner Institutions; 2015-2016.  Back to cited text no. 2
Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. Government of India. (Available from (,%202017.pdf) last acessed. On 01-09-2020.  Back to cited text no. 3
Grover S, Sahoo S, Mehra A, Avasthi A, Tripathi A, Subramanyan A,et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 lockdown: An online survey from India. Indian J Psychiatry 2020;62(4):354-62.  Back to cited text no. 4
National Crime Record Bureau. Annual Crime in India Report. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Home Affairs; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 5
Grover S, Mehra A, Sahoo S, Avasthi A, Tripathi A, D'Souza A,et al. State of mental health services in various training centers in India during the lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J Psychiatry 2020;62(4):363-69.  Back to cited text no. 6
Grover S, Mehra A, Sahoo S, Avasthi A, Tripathi A, D'Souza A,et al. Impact of COVID-19, pandemic and lockdown on the state of mental health services in the private sector of India, Indian J Psychiatry,2020, in Press.  Back to cited text no. 7
World Federation for Mental Health. World Mental Health Day 2020.  Back to cited text no. 8

Correspondence Address:
Dr. O P Singh
AA 304, Ashabari Apartments, O/31, Baishnabghata, Patuli Township, Kolkata - 700 094, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/indianjpsychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_1140_2

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