The Centre-funded District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), which is already running in 34 districts of Maharashtra, is likely to be rolled out soon in Mumbai. To start with, the Centre has sanctioned posts of two psychiatrists and other required staff in the programme, which is likely to be approved by next year.
The DMHP is implemented by the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) in all states. The programme consists of seven posts in each district including a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, psychiatric social worker, community nurse among other staff. “We had put up a proposal under the Programme Implementation Plan (PIP). The posts will be sanctioned over the next few months,” said Dr Sadhana Tayade, Director of DHS, Maharashtra.
Mumbai has a strong network of medical facilities under the BMC. Thus, newer programmes can often lead to replication. To avoid this, the DHS plans to get a non-profit organisation to conduct a preliminary survey and find the gaps in mental health facilities in the city.
“The challenges in Mumbai can be very different compared to the other 34 districts in Maharashtra, as the city is very populated and has a larger migrant population,” said Dr Padmaja Jogewar, Joint Director (non-communicable diseases), DHS. “The pandemic has led to a spurt in mental health issues and rolling out this programme will only help cater to a larger population,” she said.
While funding from the Centre is crucial, finding psychiatrists is a major challenge, said DHS officials. At present, there are 41 posts of psychiatrists sanctioned under DMHP in the state, but 11 are currently vacant. “Filling the vacancies is our utmost priority. We have given out many advertisements and have also conducted interview sessions,” said Dr Tayade.
The Bellary Model
The DMHP was started in 1996 under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) by the Centre. It aims at early detection and treatment of common mental illnesses with a limited number of drugs under the guidance of a specialist. Health workers are trained to identify signs of mental illnesses, spread public awareness and monitor. This four-point concept is known as the ‘Bellary Model’, as it was first implemented in the Bellary district of Karnataka.
The DMHP staff regularly visit villages and households to conduct awareness sessions in schools and colleges, in an effort to raise awareness in the community.
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