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Census 2011 to enumerate mentally ill persons separately

For the first time,mentally ill people are going to be enumerated separately in the Census.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
November 21, 2010 9:20:01 am

For the first time,mentally ill people are going to be enumerated separately in the Census. In the second phase of decennial exercise beginning February 9 for Census 2011,the enumerators will count the mentally ill persons separately and record their population in the country.

In the previous censuses,mentally disabled people were counted but there was no separate enumeration for them. “Mentally ill persons are going to be enumerated in Census 2011 for the first time. Specific questions have been laid down for enumerators to ask about mentally ill persons in a family,” said Neena Sharma,the director of Census operations in Uttar Pradesh.

Census officials said unlike mental retardation,the onset or realisation of mental illness is not seen from the individual’s birth. “It does not mean the enumerator will have to conduct any test to assess mental illness in any person. It should be left to the respondent to report whether the member of the household has mental illness,” said an official.

“An enumerator will only have to ask the respondent whether the mentally disabled person exhibits any of the symptoms of ‘mental illness’ as described in the Census manual.. If a person shows any of these symptoms,he will be counted as mentally ill,” the official said.

According to the Census manual of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner office in India,an individual is mentally ill if he or she takes medicines or other treatment for mental illness,or,exhibits unnecessary worry and anxiety,unexplained withdrawal or problems in sleep,loss of appetite or depression,thought of dying or unattended personal hygiene.

If a persons exhibits repetitive (obsessive-compulsive) behaviour or thoughts,he or she will be counted in the category of mentally illness. Moreover,if any person exhibits sustained changes of mood or mood swings (joy and sadness) leading to having many days or weeks of not being able to function and behave normally,he or she will be counted as mentally ill.

According to the manual,a mentally ill person may have unusual experiences ¿ such as hearing voices,seeing visions,experience of strange smells or sensations or strange taste. The person may exhibit unusual behaviour like talking or laughing to self,staring in space,excessive fear and suspicion without reasons. A mentally ill person may have difficulty in social interactions and adapting at home,at school,at workplace or generally in society.

The officials said that as people avoid to reveal the identity of mentally ill persons in the family and there was no provision for their counting,till now there is no data about their number. “Census of mentally ill people will help the governments in making welfare and rehabilitation policies exclusively for them,” the official said.

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