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Mental health in Indian Subcontinent

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A widespread epidemic of mental illness and suicide exists across the Indian subcontinent. In India, 0.06% of the national budget can be used to address concerns related to mental health. Only 43 institutions of mental health are functional in a country with a population of 1.2 billion. Suicide is highest in India in relation to other countries in Southeast Asia; there is higher incidence of suicides amongst males and those below 44 years of age. In Pakistan the rate of mental health professionals for 100,000 people is 0.185% (WHO), and there is no significant advance in training of new mental health professionals either. In Bangladesh the rate is 0.07%. Across the Indian subcontinent, poverty and debt are among the causes for rising numbers of suicide. A complicated range of social, economic and cultural factors are also the reason why mental illness is not often addressed and diagnosed. People, especially women with mental illness, are often 'discarded' and lead their lives in either mental institutions or misunderstood and on the fringes of society. People with mental illness who have financial means still are confronted with issues of accessibility, unemployment and lack of understanding, inadequate care, availability of drugs and unresponsive medical systems. Support systems offered by the State are minimal and often the law is patriarchal and infantalizes those with mental health issues, allowing their guardian or family to govern their life and treatment which can include regressive therapies like electroshock treatment.