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Self-reporting of mental illness less than 1 pc in India: IIT, Ohio University study

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) The self-reporting rate of mental illness in India is less than one per cent and the private sector is a major provider of mental health services in the country, a recent study by Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur and USA’s Ohio State University found.

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The study has been published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems and has been co-authored by Dr Alok Ranjan, Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Arts (SoLA), IIT Jodhpur and Dr. Jewel Crasta, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.

“The findings revealed that self-reporting rates for mental health problems were notably low. The study revealed that the self-reporting of mental illness was less than one per cent based on the 75th Round National Sample Survey, 2017-18. The survey completely relied on the self-reporting of the individuals," Ranjan said.

The data was collected from 5,55,115 individuals (3,25,232 rural and 2,29,232 urban), from randomly selected 8,077 villages and 6,181 urban areas, including 283 outpatient and 374 hospitalisation cases due to mental disorders in India.

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"Stigma in society acts as a significant barrier to reporting mental health issues. In today's society, the reluctance to report mental health issues persists due to the prevailing stigma. Individuals, fearing social judgement, often choose silence over seeking help. Destigmatising mental health is crucial to fostering an environment where seeking support is embraced," he added.

The study shed light on the significant out-of-pocket expenses incurred by individuals seeking mental health services, largely due to reliance on the private sector.

"The study was done based on the logistic regression models and it shows that the individuals with higher incomes were 1.73 times more inclined to report health problems compared to those with lower incomes.” "The research revealed that self-reporting of mental disorders in India is considerably lower than the actual burden of the disease. This disparity suggests a significant gap in identifying and addressing mental health issues," Ranjan said.

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Besides low self-reporting of mental disorders, the study has flagged socio economic disparities, dominance of the private sector, limited health insurance coverage and high out-of-pocket expenditure, among top concerns about mental illness. "The study uncovered a socioeconomic divide, with self-reporting of mental disorders being 1.73 times higher among the richest income group population compared to the poorest in India. The private sector emerged as a major provider of mental health services, accounting for 66.1 pc of outpatient care and 59.2 pc of inpatient care.

"A mere 23 per cent of individuals hospitalised for mental disorders had health insurance coverage at the national level. The study revealed that average out-of-pocket expenditures for both hospitalisation and outpatient care were significantly higher in the private sector than in the public sector," Ranjan said.

The 2017 National Mental Health Survey by The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), indicated that around 197.3 million individuals had a mental disorder in India. PTI GJS NB

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