Medica Hospitals champions universal access to mental health as humanity’s foremost priority

Healthcare Kolkata State West Bengal

Kolkata : Medica Superspecialty Hospital, the leading private healthcare chain in Easters india, hosted a thought provoking panel discussion titled “Mental health is a universal human ration of World Mental Health Day 2023.

The event commenced with an insightful Psychiatrist Dr. Anuttama Banerjee, who shed light on the theme for the year, The distinguished panel of experts included, Dr. Abir Mukherjee, Senior Consultant Pychiatrist, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Dr. Sourav Das, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Dr. Arijit Dutta Chowdhury, Consultant Psychiatrist, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Dr. Harsh Jain, Senior Consultant-Neurosurgeon and Spine Surgeon, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Dr. Nicola Judith Flynn, MD, Head of Department – Paediatrics, and Neonatology, Medica Superspecialty Hospital and Dr. Arunava Roy, Senior Consultant, Unit Head of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology & Women Cancer Initiative, and Robotic Surgery Specialist and Trainer at Medica Hospital. The discussion was skillfully moderated by Sohini Saha, Consultant Psychologist at the hospital.

This time World Mental Health Day carries the theme “Mental health is a universal human right” serving as a global reminder to raise awareness, enhance knowledge, and take action to promote and protect the mental well-being of everyone as an inherent human right.
According to the World Health Organization, one out of every eight individuals worldwide grapple with mental health challenges, with a growing number of adolescents and young people affected by such issues. The overarching goal of World Mental Health Day is to foster global awareness of mental health concerns and galvanize efforts to support mental health initiatives.

Dr. Anuttama Banerjee, Consultant Psychologist at Medica Superspecialty Hospital, expressed, “Mental health care needs to be prioritized first by the person who is experiencing the inner struggles. Even if one performs all the duties impeccably or behaves as expected, one may still feel unhappy. Life may still seem meaningless. It’s important to reflect and reach out to the professionals. We also need to form a safe-empathetic network around us.”

Dr. Abir Mukherjee stated, “India’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 marked a pivotal moment in our journey towards a more inclusive society. The RPWD Act of 2016 and the Mental Health Care Act of 2017 were significant steps in aligning our laws with the UNCRPD. However, as a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, I see room for improvement While the Mental Health Care Act aimed to dispel stigma and prioritize patient rights, it primarily focuses on hospital treatment, leaving gaps in community care. The importance of families in providing care remains inadequately acknowledged. Concepts like advanced directives and Nominated Representatives, although idealistic, may face practical challenges in the Indian context. Furthermore, the definitions of mental illness and mental health establishments require more clarity, Balancing individual autonomy and risk assessment, especially in cases of capacity, is essential. On a positive note, the RPWD Act’s expansion to include conditions like autism spectrum disorder and specific learning disabilities, along with the introduction of benchmark disability, offers hope for a more inclusive and equitable future. As MEDICA Superspecialty Hospital we navigate these complexities, our commitment to upholding the rights of persons with mental illness must remain unwavering.”

During the panel discussion, Dr. Sourav Das emphasized the significance of decriminalizing suicide, stressing that it goes beyond a mere legal reform. He conveyed, “Decriminalization of suicide represents a compassionate endeavor aimed at addressing the underlying mental health challenges that push individuals to the brink of desperation. By eliminating the stigma of criminality, we create an environment conducive to open conversations and early interventions, empowering individuals to seek assistance without the fear of punitive measures. This marks a pivotal milestone in raising awareness about mental health and eradicating the shame associated with suicidal thoughts and actions. In the treatment of individuals who have attempted suicide, empathy and understanding play a central role. A comprehensive approach, encompassing psychiatric evaluation, psychotherapy, and, when necessary, medication, can effectively address their emotional distress. Establishing a strong support network comprising friends and family is crucial, alongside continuous therapy to nurture coping mechanisms and resilience. Ultimately, we must cultivate a society that encourages dialogue about mental health, promotes well-being, and extends a beacon of hope to those who may be engulfed in despair. Decriminalization stands as a pivotal stride toward achieving these goals.”

Dr. Arijit Dutta Chowdhury emphasized the hidden burden of mental health issues among hospitalized patients and their families. He shared, “During our assessments of patients admitted for various health- concerns, we’ve noticed a significant number grappling with undiagnosed mental health conditions, often unnoticed by both the individuals and their families. This hidden struggle serves as a substantial obstacle to their overall recovery. Frequently, patients and their families are hesitant to seek clinical assistance for mental health challenges due to a lack of awareness. I firmly believe that comprehensive education on mental health is paramount. People must not only be aware of these conditions but also informed about the available treatments and procedures. This knowledge can be a powerful tool in promoting better mental well-being and ensuring that individuals receive the support they need.”

In the discussion further, Dr. Harsh Jain shared, “We frequently notice a range of mental health issues in our patients while treating them for neurological problems. These includes anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and adjustment disorders. I’ve witnessed the profound connection between neurological disorders and mental health challenges. The human spirit is resilient, but it’s essential to address not just the physical, but also the emotional and mental well-being of our patients.”

Dr. Nicola Judith Flynn, expressed, “The WHO describes health as a state of complete mental and physical well-being. When we think about mental health, we encounter a picture of two extremes – depression and manic behaviour. Mental health, however, is not simply the absence of a mental disorder. Today, in the paediatric population, mental health is of prime importance, and the way we look at mental health will define the outcome of our future generation. Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children learn, behave and cope with stress, worry and fears. The vision of National Mental Health Policy of India is to promote mental health and ensure the right to mental healthcare and services for all. All persons with a mental illness or who are being treated, should be treated with humanity and respect for the human being they are, without any discriminations of any kind.

Dr. Arunava Roy, shared, “Within the realm of women’s cancer, we must recognize that the battle extends beyond the physical. The resilience of our gynaecological cancer patients is awe-inspiring, but MEDICA Superspecialty Hospital caring for life KOLKATA we must not overlook the silent struggle within. Their mental health is as crucial as their physical well- being. I have witnessed the quiet strength and determination of these remarkable women, yet I’ve also observed the shadows of anxiety and fear that loom. As caregivers, we must provide not only state-of- the-art medical care but also unwavering support for their emotional journey By understanding and addressing the unique mental health challenges faced by all cancer patients, we can provide holistic healing, nurturing both the body and the spirit.”

At the end, the moderator of the discussion Sohini Saha, added, “Seeking help for your mental health is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to your strength. Understanding when to seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist is essential in nurturing your mental well-being. A psychologist offers guidance and support for navigating life’s challenges, while a psychiatrist can provide specialized interventions when medication is necessary. Just as we care for our physical health, recognizing the right time to reach out to these professionals ensures that our minds receive the attention they deserve; fostering a healthier and happier life because, it is in a sound mind that a sound body resides, and it is every human’s right from a child to an elderly person that they receive superior healthcare services. We, at Medica Superspeciality Hospital are committed to bring the best in healthcare & mental health care is an integral part of our holistic healthcare system.”

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