Improving outcomes for mental health patients in India
Mental illness constitutes one-sixth of all health related disorders in India. India accounts for nearly 15% of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden. There is a 90% treatment gap for those living with mental illness in India; low health seeking and poor adherence to treatment being the biggest root causes.
Low health seeking among mental health patients is a result of low intent to seek care, lack of awareness about how to seek care and poor access to affordable diagnosis. Help is sought in time only if the symptoms are too debilitating or unsafe to others.
Also, high reliance on faith healers leads to a delay in treatment which leads to worse mental health outcomes. ~40-50% of patients drop out among severe mental disorders patients and 67% in case of depression. There is a higher chance of relapse for those who stop their medicines prematurely. Poor adherence in mental health is a result of low motivation, poor access to affordable treatment and perceived ineffectiveness of treatment. Forgetting to take medicines and high financial burden in terms of opportunity cost of missing work and high travelling cost are some of the major causes of low adherence.
Innovative finance has the potential for scaling of effective solutions by finding new and innovative ways of service delivery in mental health and working with community health workers and community. KOIS is conducting feasibility studies to explore those options.
“Mental health is extremely stigmatized in India and there is a serious lack of knowledge. People are hesitant to consult a psychiatrist as that could lower their chances of marriage. The psychiatrist per lakh population ratio in India is very low which leads to poor accessibility and increased need to travel long distances to seek help.”