Tinsukia: Latest data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that India lost more than 1.53 lakh people to suicide in the last one year when the pandemic was wreaking havoc across the world.

This wake up call, along with painful stories of mental trauma, depression and anxiety underscores the growing need for mental health centres in smaller towns and cities of the country.

Stressing the need to boost infrastructure and skilled manpower to deal with psychological health patients, Dr Manjit Singh, a psychiatrist at civil hospital in Tinsukia, told EastMojo that the daily footfall was limited to two to three OPD patients when he joined the hospital three-and-half years back.

Experts feel there’s an “urgent need” to boost the mental health infrastructure in Assam

“Today, the number is more than 30 OPD cases with three to four indoor patients at any time,” Dr Singh said.

“Cases of depression, anxiety, adjustment problems are very common these days. In addition, children facing psychiatric problems like difficulty in continuing studies, lack of concentration, addiction to mobile phones, etc., are becoming very common and have only increased post Covid-19 last year,” Singh said.

The psychiatrist acknowledged the “urgent need” to boost the mental health infrastructure in the state.

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“Though we are counselling and treating such cases here at the psychiatric unit of the civil hospital, unavailability of psychiatric nurses, a must to manage psychiatric cases, is hindering the overall management of cases, particularly those of violent nature. Such cases need skilled manpower and a different infrastructure which we are lacking,” the doctor said, adding that they refer such cases to the psychiatric department of Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh.

The ‘Caring Minds’ institute is the brainchild of Kolkata-based entrepreneur Minu Budhia

To bridge this gap in mental healthcare, however, Kolkata-based entrepreneur Minu Budhia has returned to her roots in Assam’s Tinsukia to open an institute for mental health, ‘Caring Minds’.

“Mental health has always been neglected in tier two and tier three cities. For good health, mental health is equally important along with physical health. And the Covid-19 pandemic has brought forth this issue,” Budhia told EastMojo.

‘Caring Minds’ aims to fill the massive gap in providing mental health care in the small town of Tinsukia and help people in dealing issues related to psychological health. The institute is the brainchild of Budhia, who is one of the directors of Kolkata-based Patton group and a psychotherapist herself.

“My aim is to roll out various services related to mental health under one roof. Being a daughter of Tinsukia, I chose this town for the extension of ‘Caring Minds’, which was launched in Kolkata in 2013,” Budhia said.

On Saturday, Tinsukia deputy commissioner Narsing Pawar will inaugurate ‘Caring Minds’ at the premises of R.C. Agarwal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre.

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Civil Hospital Superintendent Mridul Gogoi told EastMojo that more and more mental health care centres and private players need to come forward in the in the post-pandemic times.

“To treat a patient facing any kind of psychological disorder, one of the most important aspects is that the patients get their family’s emotional support besides counselling, treatment and therapy. Hence, it is very necessary that each district has proper mental health care centres,” Gogoi said.

Budhia said the centre will provide counselling, treatment and therapy to patients with mental health issues. The experts will fly down from Kolkata every fortnightly and cases will be followed online as well.

The institute is offering one-on-one counselling sessions on Friday between 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and on Saturday between 10.00 am to 1.00 pm

“Besides clinical services, we shall provide academia services by providing one year course recognized by Jadavpur university in psychiatric training to empower those interested in this field to meet the manpower challenges in the coming years and develop employment opportunities,” she added.

As a precursor, the institute is offering one-on-one counselling sessions on Friday between 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and Saturday between 10.00 am to 1.00 pm.

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