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Psychiatry: A Neglected Feature

Finally, Health Insurance has been ensured in the field of Psychiatry for the patients in India! The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has recently confirmed this piece of news, saying in a statement that anyone suffering from psychological or mental disorder, from depression to drug addiction, would be receiving the cost of their treatment. As per the Mental Health Act (2017), the psychiatric patients should get full financial support, including insurance coverage, for their treatment. Now, the Government has implemented the Act, and one can hope that the Indian Society will learn how to treat psychiatric patients, properly…

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Still, even the highly educated members of the society tend to neglect patients in need of psychiatric treatment in the South Asian country. Perhaps, conditions of insurance may help them realise the need for psychiatric treatment. Moreover, implementation of the Act would encourage hospital authorities, doctors and health workers to safeguard the rights of psychiatric patients! It is expected that people, who deal with science, should sensitise the society about the misconceptions, apart from making others sensitive towards these patients. So far, people associated with the Health Sector have neglected such patients. Even, many rural hospitals do not have any Psychiatric Wards, despite the presence of Psychology in Medical Science curriculum. The latest move by the Government of India will certainly boost the psychiatric treatment at hospitals.

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Nearly 8% of India’s total population has psychological problems. In its latest report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that 20% of the population will experience mental problems by the end of 2020. However, there is not sufficient number of psychiatrists in India… precisely, the country has one psychiatrist per 330,000 people! As a result, more than 70% of psychiatric patients do not receive any medical assistance. While many patients are subjected to constant torture or negligence, others live in poor condition without the minimum amenities. It is difficult to predict whether they would be able to enjoy the benefits of insurance in the coming days. Therefore, it has become necessary to protect their rights. The Health Ministry of India believes that the implementation of Mental Health Act (2017) will certainly encourage the Government-run and private hospitals to take care of the mental patients.

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As only a small fraction of psychiatric patients require hospitalisation, majority of them get treated at different Outpatient Departments, which are not under insurance coverage! So, it is also important to provide appropriate support to those Departments in order to help visitors get proper psychiatric treatment. The importance of Medical Insurance is huge, but it’s a tiny part of the Health Service (especially in India). The inclusion of Medical Insurance Policies may cover the cost of treatment… however, it may not increase the certainty of getting medical attention! It seems that the implementation of Mental Health Act (2017) may not help psychiatric patients get full medical attention. The Government, seemingly, will have to work a lot in this regard…

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