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Mental health should get priority

I read Aditi Tandon’s inspiring article “Tokenism won’t do: Mental health fights for its space” (Perspective, Sept 20), followed by an equally inspiring editorial, “Restoring mental health: It should get high priority” (Sept 23).

The Tribune has done a great service to the cause of mental health by highlighting the suffering of millions of patients of mental disorders and the agony of their family members due to the gross neglect of mental health services in this country.

Patients and their families are afraid to even raise their voice in protest due to the prevailing stigma about mental disorders in society. It is sad to record that even political leaders avoid taking up the cause of mental health due to such prejudice.

I have been in the field of mental health in this country for the last 50 years. There has been no doubt some progress but a lot remains to be done. Mental health services in the rural areas are virtually non-existent while in the urban areas they are grossly inadequate. Some general hospitals in big cities have opened OPD services which are quickly overwhelmed by large numbers of patients.

There is an urgent need to extend such services to the district and sub-divisional towns by rapidly training general duty doctors, nurses and other medical staff at primary care level to recognise and treat common and serious mental disorders.

Dr N. N. WIG, Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry, PGI, Chandigarh


The editorial is right in its emphasis on the significance of mental health. According to the figures 15 million Indians suffer from serious psychiatric illness while 30 to 50 million suffer from mild-to-moderate psychiatric problems.

It is strange that the National Rural Health Mission is silent on psycho-social disorders. The country has not cared to meet the shortage of psychiatrists. How will the National Mental Health Programme achieve its objective of providing mental healthcare to all, particularly to the socio-economically weaker sections of society?

Who will take care of the people who have fallen victim to depression, anxiety and other mental stresses created by difficult socio-economic conditions? While the government must realise its responsibility, doctors, teachers, the media, NGOs and community and religious leaders must play their part. Human life is a precious gift and mental health cannot be ignored.



The editorial remarkably touched every aspect except industrialisation and urbanisation that has increased in the past few decades.

In an urban world, people are far removed from the warmth of community life. Living in an alien environment requires adjustments. The failure to do so leads to mental illnesses and behavioural disorders.

SURYA KANTA,Kurukshetra

Diminishing Punjabi values

Kuldip Nayar has sounded a timely and well-meaning caution in his article “Tradition, old values still alive in Bangalore” (Sept 18). Indeed, the ongoing degradation of the rich culture and heritage of north India is cause for concern.

Today, large percentage of the Punjabi youth has become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Then the obsession of Punjabis to settle in foreign lands adds to their woes.

Those at the helm believe that saving cultural heritage is limited to religious places, scriptures and monuments. For saving Punjab’s youth from going astray, the onus is also on Punjabi lyricists who glorify alcohol drinking. What makes Bangalore fascinating is that it is a true blend of modernity and tradition.

Dr I M JOSHI, Chandigarh 

Laudable directive

It is deplorable that a large number of convicts (editorial, “Worthy directive: Time to hasten action on mercy petitions”, Sept 22) sentenced to death are undergoing agony and trauma, hanging between life and death, as their mercy petitions are pending.

The Supreme Court’s directive is not only an indirect indictment of the Centre but also upholds the citizens’ right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

By keeping the condemned convicts in perpetual anxiety, the Union government is not fulfilling its constitutional duties. There should be a time limit for disposal of mercy petitions. Otherwise, death penalty would lose its underlying purpose of being a deterrent.



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