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IANS

With one out of every 10 people having a mental disorder and over 70 per cent of them are not being treated, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research's (PGI) Department of Psychiatry will work in public mental health with World Psychiatric Association (WPA) as its collaborating centre, the second in India, said department's head Debasish Basu on Tuesday.

The WPA, the global association of 147 psychiatric societies across 121 countries, in April approved the Department of Psychiatry at the PGI in Chandigarh as one of its collaborating centres.

As of now, there are WPA collaborating centres in eight countries -- the UK, Egypt, South Africa, Hong Kong, Kenya, Qatar, Italy and India.

India is the only country in the world where the WPA has agreed to start two collaborating centres, the other one being in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru.

In total, WPA has nine collaborating centres across the globe.

"This is a matter of great achievement as well as responsibility for the Department of Psychiatry at PGI, Chandigarh," Basu told IANS.

Mental disorder accounts for at least 20 per cent of the global disease burden due to a combination of high prevalence, most lifetime mental disorder arising before adulthood, and a broad range of impacts across health, education, employment, social relationships, crime, violence and stigma.

Poor mental well-being has a similar broad range of impacts.

Crises such as Covid-19 are likely to further increase the risk of mental disorder, relapse of mental disorder and poor mental wellbeing.

What is a WPA collaborating centre?

A WPA collaborating centre is an entity designated as part of an international collaborative network and committed to conducting activities that support the WPA mission, in particular its triennial action plan.

The WPA centres have a major role in enabling the advancement of mental health for countries in the region or worldwide. They provide support in developing, delivering, and sharing educational, research and publications expertise and resources, and policy and practice developments in the field of psychiatry.

The mission is to enable countries in the region to develop, strengthen, and offer continuing support to develop human resources for mental health at all levels, Basu said.

The WPA, in its triennial Action Plan 2020-2023 (to be continued beyond this), has identified public meantal health as one of most important key areas of work. "Our centre has been assigned this specific task," he explained.

Public mental health takes a population approach to mental health which includes assessment and strategic decisions to improve coverage, outcomes and coordination of different levels of mental disorder prevention and mental wellbeing promotion.

It aims to sustainably improve population mental health through coordinated working with a range of public, third sector, other organisations, local communities and individuals.

Effective public mental health interventions exist to treat mental disorder, prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorder from arising and promote mental wellbeing.

However, only a minority of those with mental disorder receive any treatment even in high income countries, provision of interventions to prevent associated impacts is even less, and provision of interventions to prevent mental disorder or promote mental wellbeing is negligible.

Thus, there is a huge public mental health implementation gap.

What is the public mental health action plan for the PGI?

Some of the proposed work for reducing the public mental health implementation gap includes to raise awareness, value, acceptance and prioritisation in national health policies, to support proposals, including for national mental health needs assessments and actions, to address unmet need and to support training to professionals and trainees across mental health, public health and policy to support capacity building.

The possible range of activities includes establishing and strengthening national-level resources, besides for SAARC countries.

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