Review of Psychiatry - A Social Stigma! By Dr. Harsha Gopisetty

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Review of Psychiatry - A Social Stigma! By Dr. Harsha Gopisetty News paper headlines stating ‘Death of 25 mentally-ill patients, charred beyond recognition, in a devastating fire which engulfed their thatched hostel, pathetically chained to their cots in Ervadi Mental Hospital in Tamil Nadu' and on the other extreme 'States like Haryana do not have a mental hospital' is very revealing of the neglected state of approach to the mentally ill in India. One wonders! Why it is so? When all other sciences have made such great advances in India , Psychiatry has made virtually no headway, and is in a very nascent state. The first Department of Psychiatry with outpatient facility in a general hospital in India was opened on 1st May 1933, at the then Carmichael Medical College, now known as R. G. Kar Medical College, in Kolkata. The traditional approach to the care of the mentally ill during the last 200 years was custodial, rather than therapeutic. This approach to “Psychiatric Care Delivery System” was introduced in India from Britain . Mental hospitals were established in isolated areas, often on the outskirts with the object of segregating the patient as troublesome and dangerous to their neighbors. The overriding concern was to protect the citizens without regard for appropriate care and cure of the ailing patients. As a consequence of this objective of the mental hospitals, the quality of care in such hospitals had been very poor. The inmates were subjected to indignity and humiliation for an indefinite period, and once admitted never recovered, or rehabilitated back in their family, but doomed to the inevitable end. The stigma of mental illness thus prevailed. What really needs to be done... ... middle of paper ... ...us advances in this field, while we still consider it a stigma even to be referred to a psychiatrist. Mental illness is just another biological or sociological problem, which needs to be dealt with on time, before it’s too late, by a specialist. It needs to be understood that it is as natural as cancer or AIDS, but can be worse and a living hell for those who are the victims of this illness, and not treated in time. When we can give all the care and attention to other medical problems, and can go campaigning for them; then its time to look at this aspect of illness with same enthusiasm. We cannot afford to neglect this illness. We need more voluntary involvement, and have a better infrastructure developed to build a better future for every person who is suffering, and who is prone to suffer with the current mode of life of high stress and competitions.

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