Is India’s Approach to Providing Mental Health Care Effective?

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.


In 2016, a study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience found that about 14% of Indians have mental health disorders, and at least 10% of them require immediate medical intervention. Limited awareness of issues combined with stigmatisation of mental illnesses has meant that only about 10%–12% of those with disorders are able to seek help. 

While the government has made efforts to implement policies that provide care to people with psychosocial disabilities, it has faced criticism about its approach. Bhargavi V Davar, in 2012, evaluated the Mental Health Care Bill, 2010 (referred to as MHCB) and argued that the bill exacerbated deficiencies of prior legislation and approaches that involved denying citizens their rights. She suggests that India’s policies should align more closely with the United Nations’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), given that it ratified the convention in 2007. 

Vikram Patel responds to Davar, saying that while he agrees with Davar’s analysis of the punitive nature of prior legislation, her arguments about the MHCB are limited in two fundamental ways. S Parasuraman and Vandana Gopikumar also respond to Davar, arguing that the bill addresses the deficiencies in earlier policies in caring for people with psychosocial disabilities, particularly because it holds the state accountable.

A few other works that are broadly related to this discussion:

  1. Mental Health: Treatment Gap, Awareness, Language | EPW Engage, 2017
  2. How Kerala’s Poor Tribals Are Being Branded As 'Mentally Ill' | Sudarshan R Kottai, 2018
  3. Women in Psychological Distress Evidence from a Hospital-Based Study | A Kiranmayi, U Vindhya and V Vijayalakshmi, 2001
  4. Children's Mental Health: Role of Schools | Namita Ranganathan, 2008
  5. Mental Health Legislation: Contradictory Paradigms, Uneasy Compromise | K S Jacob, 2016


Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at with the subject line—"Mental Health and Policy."


Curated by Abhishek Shah []

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