‘Covid-induced mental illnesses spike gender violence in Delhi, Guj, J’khand’

Nearly 25 per cent Covid-hit patients suffered from mental health issues across Delhi, Gujarat and Jharkhand — more in the urban areas than the rural settings — even as the pandemic waned which resulted in more gender-based violence the the three states, a study said on Friday.

A strong linkage was established between gender-based violence issues and mental health as nearly 77 per cent of gender-based violence affected individuals were found to have mental health issues.

The study also highlighted that 16 per cent family members of Covid-19 patients reported having mental health issues, according to World Health Partners (WHP), a leading public health organisation.

The WHP’s tele-counselling service helped Covid-19 patients, their family members and gender-based-violence affected people in overcoming mental health issues.

“Learning from the project highlighted the Covid-19 pandemic’s mental health impact by focusing on the need for accessing affordable and timely mental health care,” said Prachi Shukla, Country Director – World Health Partners.

“Increase in mental health issues has opened the doors for deploying low-cost digital technologies that can support the government’s efforts in building stronger health systems,” she added.

The project was implemented from June 2021 – November 2022 in 26 districts across the three states.

The teams reached out to more than 500,000 people to assess their mental health status.

During the project duration, WHP’s tele-health platform received more than 70,000 calls for mental health support.

Nearly 95 per cent persons with mild mental health issues were found to be normal after completing the tele-counselling sessions.

In urban settings across all the three states, prevalence of mental health issues among men and women in the 35-59 age group was higher at 21.2 per cent, as compared to rural settings at 13.2 per cent.

“Tele-mental health is a game changer when it comes to creating ease of access of services to the parts of the country that may not have access to the kind of quality care that is available to people in metros or tier 1 cities,” said Dr Rajesh Sagar, Professor and Head-Psychiatry, AIIMS.

“There is a need to strengthen the health system of the country and to ensure effective mental health care delivery in the primary care setting in order to reach the unreached population,” Sagar added.

The 18-month project was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It was implemented with technical support from institutions such as the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) and Ranchi Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS).

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