Corona: India not yet ready for the Great Depression coming with Great Recession

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Corona must have hit you badly. You are lucky to survive the deadly disease. But you may end up with a cut in salary if you are employed. You may lose the clients or close your business if you run one; you will never know how long you can survive if you are a daily wager.

But don’t get depressed please. India never bothers to spend on the mental health of the people. Mental health is of least priority for us. It is not just Great Recession that is coming, but it is Great Depression.

Great Depression

One in every 5 Indians suffer from mental illness, following the lock-down and corona which the country may have handled reasonably good.

Reports say that over 200 people died, many of them committing suicide following depression due to lock-down.

It is not just economic recession, but a great depression that is waiting India which takes little care about the mental health of its people.

You may be suffering from anxiety, frustration, panic attacks, loss or sudden increase of appetite, insomnia, depression, mood swings, delusions, fear, and suicidal tendencies. But you are not alone, now 30% of our fellow beings in the country must be feeling the same. Going forward, with worse economic conditions, 70% will feel the same.

According to an Oxfam report, India’s top 10% of the population holds 74.3% of the total national wealth while the bottom 90% holds 25.7% of national wealth. So, even this 10% will be not spared from mental agony, because they feel depresed over erosion in the profits.

According to the Economic Survey of 2018-19, almost 93% of the total workforce is ‘informal’ and they are harshly hit by the current lockdown.

Some Depressive Trends

The Indian Psychiatry Society has already warned about steep rise in the number of mental patients. A recent survey revealed there has been a 20 percent rise in mental illness cases and at least one in five Indians suffering from mental illness.

As per the indication, now the people are caught with fear of losing jobs, businesses and lives. And if they survive, we cannot predict what will they do after the lock-down.

According to a report, there were over 200 deaths due to corona-related reasons like hunger, denial of medical care, suicide, lack of food and livelihood, exhaustion, depression, crimes, hardships due to walking by the migrants etc. At least 40 people have died or committed suicide after India shut all alcohol stores.

The helplines across the country have reported higher calls. Most of them saw at least 50% increase in distress calls. Even the helplines for children in distress reported higher numbers.

Situation is grim and bad. But it is sure, it will be become worse as the lock-down continues.

Very Depressive Facts

The Indian spend on mental health is one of the lowest in the world. In the financial year 2019, the budget allocated to the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) was brought down to Rs 40 crore from Rs 50 crore in FY18. And the funds actually spent were only about Rs 5 crore each during the years.

Budget 2020 allocated for mental health is 0.05 per cent of the total healthcare budget whereas the developed countries spend 5% of the total healthcare budget for mental health.

Over 90 million Indians, or 7.5 per cent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion, suffer from some form of mental disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most of them do not get any help. The findings of a countrywide 2015-2016 study by India’s National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS) revealed that nearly 150 million Indians needed active intervention while fewer than 30 million were getting it.

As per earlier predictions by the WHO, 20% of Indians have mental illness. On the other side, the care givers are very less and one doctor has to treat at least 100 patients a day. There is one doctor for every 100,000 people, whereas it should be at least theree. So is the case with infrastructure facilities in the country.

With corona threatening to destablise the majority of population mentally, it is time for preparing a mental health package by the government.


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