About 16.8 percent or an estimated 2.25 crore of the country’s adult population are suffering from 13 types of mental disorders, according to a latest government survey report.
The report also revealed that about 13.6 percent of the country’s children, aged between 7 and 17, are suffering from eight type mental disorders.
A nationwide survey conducted between 2003 and 2005 had found that some 16.1 percent of the adult population in Bangladesh were affected by different mental disorders.
The information was disclosed in a report entitled “National Mental Health Survey of Bangladesh, 2018-19”.
The report was released at an event held in the capital’s Krishibid Institution Bangladesh yesterday.
A research team led by professors of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in association with the Non Communicable Disease Control Programme of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and World Health Organisation (WHO), has conducted the survey.
They collected data by surveying 7,270 adults and 2,246 children from all 64 districts between April and June this year.
The report identified that adults aged between 18 and 60 are affected by 13 types of mental disorders while children aged between 7 and 17 are affected by 8 types of mental disorders.
Of adult respondents, the highest number of affected are suffering from depressive disorder (6.7%), followed by anxiety disorder (4.5%) and somatic symptom and related disorders (2.1%), says the report.
Of child respondents, 5.9 percent is suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders, followed by anxiety disorders (4.5%) and disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders (1.9%), it says.
Also, mental disorders are more prevalent in adult females (17%) than their male counterparts (16.7%).
The report also showed that more urban adults (18.7%) are affected than the rural ones (16.2%).
It found “treatment gap” among 92.3 percent of the adult respondents and 94.5 percent of child respondents diagnosed with different mental disorders.
Principal Investigator of the report Prof Faruq Alam said people who show lack of enthusiasm in performing everyday tasks may be suffering depressive disorders.
These people may show an unwillingness to sleep, eat, go to office or even shave their beard.
Those who feel tensed and unstable, are afraid of talking to people and cannot sleep properly at night have a possibility to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, said Prof Faruq.
Moreover, different types of body pains and headache can be caused by somatic symptom and related disorders, he said.
He suggested that physicians and doctors should have an orientation on somatic symptom related disorders as the patients suffering from such diseases often seek medical attention without realising that they are suffering from mental disorder, he further said.
Prof Faruq said 1.4 percent of the adult respondents were suffering from “major mental disorders” like schizophrenia spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder.
“These types of patients are usually labelled as mad or abnormal,” he added.
Due to excessive use of smartphones, many children were found less engaged in extra-curricular activities that developed a lack of enthusiasm in them, said NIMH Director Prof Mohit Kamal.
Such children were found less attentive at schools while many parents expressed apprehension about their children’s poor exam results, he said.
However, this is a major mental health issue for the country’s children, he added.
WHO Bangladesh Representative Bardan Jung Rana praised the survey report and said it was “technically sound”.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the government made significant progress in ensuring primary healthcare for the countrymen and the time has come to include mental health in the scheme.
“We are working to this end,” he said while addressing the event as the chief guest.
Pointing on the estimated 2.25 crore adults found with mental disorders, the minister said the country has only about 200 psychiatrists and psychologists to treat them.
So, there is a big gap here, he said, stressing the need for more psychiatrists and psychologists in the country.