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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 313-314

Integrating persons with mental illness in the society

Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication9-Nov-2016

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Rakesh K Chadda
Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-9962.193655

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How to cite this article:
Chadda RK, Sarkar S. Integrating persons with mental illness in the society. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2016;32:313-4

How to cite this URL:
Chadda RK, Sarkar S. Integrating persons with mental illness in the society. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Aug 9];32:313-4. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2016/32/4/313/193655

Persons with mental illness face a lot of stigma and discrimination in the society, which also affects their help-seeking and access to treatment facilities, further jeopardizing their improvement and affecting their integration in the society.[1],[2] Creating awareness about mental disorders and their treatability can go a long way in reducing stigma and discrimination due to mental disorders and can motivate persons with mental disorders to seek help from the mental health professionals.[3],[4]

The student population is the torch bearer of any society and has the potential to spread messages in any society. Correcting their misconceptions and strengthening awareness about mental disorders would help in reducing the stigma toward psychiatric disorders. This issue of Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry has two papers from Nigeria on students’ awareness about mental disorders. One of the papers assessed the perceptions and attitudes of final year mass communication students with mental illnesses.[5] The salient findings of this paper was that only one-fifth of the respondents had come in contact with the mental health promotion activities or the mental health facilities. The attitude of the students toward people with mental illnesses was largely negative, and a dearth of information about mental illnesses was noted. The authors suggested that media has considerable influence on mental health issues, and hence emphasized the role, the mental health professionals can play in disseminating correct information to the media personnel, who are also the “potential image makers.” The other paper compared social distancing attitudes toward individuals with mental illnesses and victims of sexual violence using hypothesized vignettes.[6] This survey was conducted among students recruited from various departments of two educational colleges. The researchers found that social distancing was considerable for both the groups (i.e., persons with mental illnesses and victims of sexual violence), but was more toward individuals with mental illnesses. Another pertinent finding was that a majority of the participants endorsed that they would blame the individual with mental illness for his/her condition, suggesting gaps in their knowledge about the origin and causes of mental illnesses. Taken together, the two articles emphasized the need for increasing the awareness about mental illnesses among the students.

However, the situation might not be as bad when seen from a global view. In the recent past, media has played an important role in spreading awareness about mental disorders. Even in the low- and middle-income countries like India, both audio-visual and print media carry regular programs or columns on the issues related to mental health. In one of our earlier work on awareness about mental disorders among college students in a remote town in the hill state of Uttarakhand, India, the students had reasonably positive attitude toward mental disorders.[7] Probably, continued and sustained efforts may increase awareness about psychiatric disorders in the community and promote a less stigmatizing attitude toward mental illnesses in the society. This would help in integration of persons with mental illness in the society.

International cross-talk between experts and leaders in the field of mental health can enrich each other and help in sharing of experiences and pragmatic solutions to a range of problems including stigma, healthcare delivery, scaling up of services, etc. The XXII World Congress of the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) 2016, to be held at New Delhi, is one such mega-event that has attracted mental health professionals from a range of disciplines and from diverse countries. The present issue of the Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry carries a compilation of more than 500 abstracts of the scientific submissions to the WASP 2016. WASP 2016 is a unique memorable event in the field of social psychiatry, with participation from nearly 45 countries from all the five continents of the world. The Congress’ theme “Social Psychiatry in a Rapidly Changing World” embodies not only the large-scale changes being brought about in the social fabric but also the need for social aspects of mental health to keep pace with these changes. The submissions for the Congress have included diverse topics, ranging from survey of social supports for social withdrawal in Japan, to stress management among medical students in India, to comparison of parent versus professional provided behavioral therapy in Ukraine, to prevalence and correlates of anxiety disorders in Finland. The range of topics to be covered in this Congress through the plenary sessions, symposia, workshops, free papers and posters would fulfil the academic appetite of those who attend, as well as stimulate further work. Plenary sessions by eminent speakers and stalwarts in the field, give an opportunity to imbue the views of the leaders and get inspired to reach the pinnacle of success. Symposia conducted by the groups of eminent scholars provide an opportunity to understand the critical aspects of the various subfields of social psychiatry. The workshops give an opportunity for hands-on training on selected skills and areas of interest. Free papers and posters provide a forum for discussion of new and exciting avenues of research. This issue of the journal, carrying the abstracts from the various types of sessions, would be handy for those who wish to enrich and update their knowledge, as well as give ideas for future directions of research.

The ultimate aim of social psychiatry remains in enquiry about social determinants of mental health and improving the social aspects of delivery of care to the mentally ill. Providing affordable and acceptable health care to all would remain a goal that we would need to strive for. Inclusive health care would mean that attempts are made to integrate those with mental health problems with the mainstream society. It would need efforts from several stakeholders including mental health professionals, policy planners, legislatures, patient advocacy groups and others to integrate individuals with mental illness in the society. With the caveat that institutional care might be prudent for select few individuals, the community mental health programs need to be expanded, especially in the developing world, where fragmented care and access to care are realistic constraints. Enlisting the help of the local leaders along with educating the general public about mental illnesses probably may go a long way in improving the care process and outcomes of patients with psychiatric disorders. Several countries of the world, under the umbrella of WASP have the unique opportunity to collaborate to strengthen the capacity, provide support in policy decision making, and sustain mental health care, for a positive global impact on the outcome of individuals with mental health problems.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Thornicroft G, Rose D, Kassam A. Discrimination in health care against people with mental illness. Int Rev Psychiatry 2007;19:113-22.  Back to cited text no. 1
Corrigan PW, Watson AC. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry 2002;1:16-20.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rüsch N, Angermeyer MC, Corrigan PW. Mental illness stigma: concepts, consequences, and initiatives to reduce stigma. Eur Psychiatry 2005;20:529-39.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sarkar S, Punnoose VP. Stigma toward psychiatric disorders: what can we do about it?. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2016;32:81-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
  Medknow Journal  
Oluwole LO, Obadeji A, Dada MU. Perceptions and attitudes of students of mass communication toward mental illness in Nigerian tertiary institution. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2016;32:315-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
  Medknow Journal  
Afe TO, Ogunsemi O. Social distancing attitudes toward the mentally ill and victims of sexual violence among college students in southwest Nigeria. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2016;32:320-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
  Medknow Journal  
Chadda RK, Joshi PC, Gosain SS. Students’ awareness about psychiatric illnesses: a study from a hill state. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2007;12:26-30.  Back to cited text no. 7


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