A government survey on mental disorders in the country has come up with some astounding figures: 2.25 crore people suffer from some sort of mental disorder. Also quite worrisome is that the survey has found 13.6 percent of children aged between 7 and 17 to be suffering from eight types of mental disorder. The situation is especially devastating when this data is juxtaposed with the information that there are only about 200 psychiatrists and psychologists to treat the 2.25 crore people.
Mental health is one of the least understood and most neglected fields of healthcare in Bangladesh. The research, led by a team of professors from two public institutes and the WHO have come up with some valuable data that indicates the gravity of the situation as well as the various dimensions of the problem. Most of the adult respondents were found to be suffering from depressive disorders, followed by anxiety disorders. About two percent had psycho-somatic disorders. Many of the children in the survey suffered from neurodevelopment disorders and anxiety disorders. More women than men suffered from these disorders and urbanites suffered more from them than those in rural areas. Excessive use of smartphones has led to children being less interested in healthier activities and being less attentive in school.
These are some of the valuable insights provided by this study that should be taken seriously by policymakers, families, educational institutions and the administration of all work places. Increasing the number of qualified counsellors is an absolute necessity. The field of psychology in universities and other public institutes must be strengthened with strong faculty and university students must be encouraged to study psychology with the goal of becoming mental health practitioners. Educational institutions and workplaces should have counsellors. Mental health counselling, moreover must be accessible to all sections of the society, which means an adequate number of qualified counsellors in public hospitals and mental institutes.
Mental disorders are becoming more common as lifestyles become more hectic, stressful and financial worries keep increasing for many people in this country. Children too have to deal with all kinds of stress resulting in these disorders. This leads to low productivity and low wellbeing—red flags for any country’s development goals. Mental health must therefore be a priority for both the State and the society.