Sun, 19 May, 2019

Mental Health Awareness Program Organized in Ministry of Health

By Saras Karanjit

On October 6th, World Mental Health day program was organized by the Ministry of Health to mark the importance of the mental health of people in Nepal. Though the International Mental Health day is on October 10th, it was celebrated on the 6th because of Dashain. The chief guest of this event was Minister Gagan Kumar Thapa, Head of Ministry of Health in Nepal. Dr. Surendra Raj Upreti, secretary, along with the other heads of health organizations were seated on the guest panel. The main aim of this program was to get the attention of the Ministry of Health towards the situation of mental health in the country. In the current context of Nepal, around 50 to 60 lakh people among the total population of Nepal are mentally affected or disabled. That's around 20% of the people living in the country, which is a significant figure. Appeals were put forward on how this mental health issues can be solved and also prevented in coming future. With the theme of "Psychological First Aid", the program started after the chief guest signed a banner with a petition. The program commenced an hour later than the given time due to the late arrival of the chief guest. After that, the program ran smoothly for a couple of hours. Short speeches of around 15 minutes were given by the panel of guests. They used this opportunity to express the need of attention of the government towards mental health. There were speakers from Amrita Foundations, who put forward the current state of their company as well as the situation of Nepal, especially in the last decade. Also, Dr. Saroj Ojha had few words to say on how mental health of public needs to be prioritized. Nepal doesn't have proper management of mental health victims, neither does it have any law or constitution in its favor. Due to this, a small issue has turned out to be a notable topic for the Ministry of Health. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Surendra Sherchan, who was able to represent his views and appeals quite effectively. After hearing all the demands and pleads chief guest, Minister Gagan Kumar Thapa came up to the podium and acknowledged the facts given by other speakers. Minister Thapa mentioned that he had been looking into this topic for a while and now that all the situations are in front of him clearly, he'll definitely take actions on this. People don't take this problem too seriously but this has caused difficulties to many individuals and families, he added. In Nepal mental health has been ignored for a long time. There is no mental health care in rural parts of Nepal where more than 85% of Nepal's population resides. Numerous INGOs and NGOs are working to address this problem, but without the government's effort these measures have not had much effect. In the modern age, mental health is a key factor in determining the health of an individual and government must bring policies and plans that comprehends mental health.