Development of a Mental Health Policy in the country like India is very critical and has to work a lot deeply and dedicate to get successfully implemented. To start with India needs to do a proper situation analysis survey of all over its places, as India is very vast and has a diverse population; therefore the cultural, economical, social, health and political status of all the places differs a lot. One then with the health of the formulated report needs to have an integrated approach in planning and forming a mental health policy.
First, to prepare a situation analysis report about the need of mental health in our country as well as the current provisions those are available in mental health care. The report prepared was to be inclusive of every issue like human resources, important drugs required and their distribution, all the three preventive and curative aspects including holistic rehabilitation and care of the patient.
Secondly, the draft Mental Health Care Act was taken into account to make a National Mental Health Care Policy and also recommend changes for the same so that it can support the National Mental Health Care Policy and Plan.
Then to formulate evidence based report of National Mental Health Care Policy to recommend it to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which can state its guiding values, principles, and objectives. So that one can identify the most crucial areas of working and prioritize the action plan. Once the report was submitted to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare the further step was to make a National Mental Health Care Plan that has references of National and District Mental Health Program. It included specific activities and strategies that were to be implemented in the priority areas as mentioned above and finally also prepared an estimated budget of financial resources that will be required to implement the plan.
Finally a broad-based consultation committee was formulated with the inter-disciplinary team of mental health stakeholders of the country to discuss all of the above issues presented in the report. This was to be consulted before finalizing any of the above strategy like Situational Analysis, the National Mental Health Care Policy as well as the National Mental Health Care Plan.
The most essential step in developing the policy was to identify the major stakeholders by the government as in the process it was very important to include the views of all the professionals linked with mental health like; service users, their family members or caregivers, policy makers, it should also include the criminal justice system who also are a very important stakeholders in terms of addressing persons with mental illness in prison. Right from the people in health, education, welfare, judiciary, police, prisons, NGO’s, community key stakeholders are to be included. These steps should be taken in all the levels right from the primary health care to the national level to make work easy and decentralize the work.
Once the visits are done and one has almost all the details in a factual report, the need arises to consult and discuss the reflections had as well as the recommendations for all geographical areas to make the intervention more strong. This team should mandatorily include mental health professionals like psychiatrists- public and private both, psychiatric nurse, clinical psychologists, counselors, psychiatric social workers, police, department of criminal custody, education department, some general health practitioners, service users and also the caregivers or family members of the patient who are the most important stakeholders to actually get an ideal indication of what does the people in need actually expects from the policies that are drafted for them specifically.
Awareness should be spread in all parts of the country also to the law makers and should follow a bottom up approach rather than a top down approach. All these stakeholders must be convinced of their importance in building the policy.
In spite of looking at mental health as totally a separate entity and having an attitude of not of my business as I would never have to suffer of this illness, one should try to integrate and have an inclusive approach to spread mental health as an issue faced by everyone in the world. This should be inclusive of in health, education, livelihood, etc.
Once all these ground work is taken care off one need to have a treatment plan, have a stronger referral services, one can concentrate on preventive, curative and rehabilitative approach. One should mobilize more and more mental health professionals, as well as hospitals and beds in a proper ratio required of the current patients. There should be outpatient and inpatient services in General Health Psychiatric Unit rather than building a separate mental health hospital which becomes a way to discriminate and enforce stigma.
The policy should also largely focus on community based mental health care approach so that to have a better and early treatment as well as having them integrated in the main stream. Policy should include people affected with addiction, people trying to attempt suicide as well as persons in prisons.
These are very critical and core areas one needs to work upon at this crucial time as most of our productive population are either going in addiction and spoiling their life or the level of patience or acceptance has become so low that people end up their lives due to even a small tension that arise and lastly are become very short-tempered therefore get into crimes and such non-acceptable activities. These issues are largely to be taken care-off and worked upon. Lastly the plan should include imparting positive mental health all over the country which should be a very important step to atleast avoid most of the common mental disorders.