With a population of 1.2 billion, and only 43 mental hospitals, India is struggling to control it’s seemingly endless mental health crisis.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India has surpassed the rest of the world as the nation with the largest number of annual suicides — reaching over 135,000.
What’s interesting enough, is the fact that the majority of those deaths are of young women who fell victim to an untreated mental illness.
What has the Indian government done to bring this massive number down?
In 2014, amid a nationwide health crisis, the Indian government responded to its failed health care system — and not to forget the high suicide rates — by adopting a new policy allowing for universal mental health services, according to a New York Times report.
Although giving mentally ill patients an opportunity to visit psychiatric hospitals is a significant first step towards improvement, the real problem lies within the workers.
As documented in a VICE investigative report, the issue of women maltreatment in psychiatric facilities occurs in nearly all parts of India.
Psychiatric hospitals lock up and abused women for the rest of their lives, while on the other hand, men are free to leave from mental institutions at will.
It’s a disturbing reality, and many young women are left defenseless with India’s current mental health policies.
Misogyny & Demons
In October 2015, VICE traveled to the western state of Maharashtra, India to investigate the controversial women maltreatment.
By the end of the investigation, VICE concluded that women with mental illness had no rights or freedom in the western India.
However, when it came to men, they were treated with less social stigma and some were even granted fewer involuntary commitments.
But misogyny is only part of the problem.
For most of India’s general population, supernatural and black magic beliefs still plague the mind of most residents.
In many parts of India, people still believe that supernatural occurrences such as black magic or witchcraft are the primary cause of mental illness.
It’s a shame. Virtually nothing can be done to fix this issue at the present moment. All we could do is hope the new mental health policies begin to patch a never-ending crisis that will continue to plague India.