WORKING WITH NGOS FOR MENTAL HEALTH – INDIAN EXPERIENCE
Psychiatrists in India are very busy. With only 6,000 in number for 1.3 billion populations (one psychiatrist for 2.2 lakhs) they are indeed scarce. India will urgently need another 7,000 psychiatrists to provide the bare minimum mental health services (for a ratio of one psychiatrist for 100,000 people). With under 500 post graduates in psychiatry coming out of our medical institutions every year, this is a distant dream and may take at least 50 years to materialize.
In such a scenario, how does a psychiatrist find time to work with NGOs? When our professional fraternity is too few in number, we will have to first rely on primary care doctors. In my view, NGOs should also be accorded the second or third priority, because they deal with large number of people and the message of mental health can be spread far and wide. Psychiatrists and NGOs working together become powerful advocates for mental health.