Mental health problems are amongst the most important contributors to the global burden of disease and disability. The Global Burden of Disease world over due to mental health concerns is greater than that expected by tuberculosis, cancer or heart disease. In the year 2000, mental and neurological conditions accounted for 12.3% of disability-adjusted years lost globally and 31% of all years lived with disability at all ages and in both sexes. Of the top 10 health conditions contributing to disability adjusted life years, four are mental disorders. Mental and behavioural disorders affect more than 25% of people at any given point of time. This means 450 million people worldwide are affected by mental, neurological or behavioral problems at any given point of time. In India, about 20 to 30 million people appear to be in need of mental health care. A meta-analysis of 13 epidemiological studies concluded that the prevalence estimate of mental health problems is 58.2 per 1,000 population. The study indicated that mental disorders were higher in urban areas, among women, in the age group of 35-44 years and in the lower socioeconomic strata. The study concluded that in India nearly 1.5 million people suffer from severe mental disorders and 5.7 million suffer from various psychiatric disorders requiring immediate attention.
Compared to this huge need, there are about 3,500 psychiatrists, 1,000 psychiatric social workers, 1,000 clinical psychologists and 900 psychiatric nurses in the country. The recent Atlas project of the WHO reports that all countries in South East Asian region and nearly all countries in Africa have less than one psychiatrist for a population of one lakh. The population of India, exceeding one billion people, has access to less than 4,000 psychiatrists as compared to the nearly 80,000 psychiatrists for 840 million in Europe. The National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in India was launched in 1982 and aimed at providing minimum mental health care to maximum through integration of mental health services within the existing health care system. This ambitious NMHP failed to achieve any of its targets over the subsequent decades. In early 2001, the NMHP was radically revamped. It was re-launched as part of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002-2007) and the budgetary allocation was increased more than seven-fold. However, lack of trained professionals and administrative structures have been responsible for the inability of the programme to take off. It is in the context of this gap between the magnitude of mental health problems and the lack of services, and trained professionals to address it that the M.A. Social Work in Mental Health finds its relevance.
With rapid social change and urbanisation, there are several vulnerable groups whose mental health concerns need urgent attention. Some examples include, urban poor living on the streets and slums, women and children exposed to domestic violence, populations displaced by mega development projects, single women, sexual minorities, people living with HIV/AIDS, and so on. In order to be able to comprehend the mental health concerns of these groups, it is vital to move beyond our thinking in the mental health sector and conceptualise training programmes as well as service models that integrate the biological, psychological and interpersonal with the social and the cultural. Thus, a training/teaching programme that combines ideas of social justice and empowerment along with the knowledge and skills to understand individual and interpersonal distress and problems is a need of the hour. This postgraduate programme with a foundation in social work and an incremental training in perspectives and skills in mental health aims to fill this gap.
This programme equips students to work in various capacities at government and nongovernmental settings.
** In order to meet acute shortage of mental health care professionals in the country, TISS offers the M.A. Social Work in Mental Health in multiple locations:
1. TISS Mumbai ( Intake: 20 )
2. Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN, Tiruvarur) ( Intake: 20 )
3. The BANYAN (Chennai) ( Intake: 20 )
4. MHAT, Calicut ( Intake: 20 )
Please see the admission notice here.