The Regional Mental Hospital in Yerawada is planning to start a psychiatry institute in the city, along the lines of Bengaluru’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS). Talks are underway with several institutions, including Savitribai Phule Pune University, to start diploma courses in psychiatric nursing, M Phil courses in clinical psychology and psychiatric social work, from the academic year 2020-21.
Dr Abhijit Phadnis, superintendent at the Regional Mental Hospital, said the institute is collaborating with Sassoon General Hospital to start an MD psychiatry course and they are seeking affiliation from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences.
According to the World Health Organisation, 7.5 per cent of the Indian population suffers from mental disorder. But the paucity of doctors is such that according to estimates, there are only 4,000 professionals treating mental illnesses.
While there has been increasing awareness about issues related to mental health and paucity of doctors to treat the illness, the state health department has been stepping up efforts to introduce courses across its four regional mental hospitals. While Pune will introduce four courses — psychiatric nursing, clinical psychology, psychiatric social worker and MD psychiatry — mental hospitals in Thane and Nagpur will introduce two courses each.
The bed strength at Regional Mental Hospital in Yerawada is 2,540, but currently only 1,263 patients with various mental illnesses are admitted. Eleven of 13 Class 1 posts for psychiatrists are vacant at the hospital. ,Presently only two have been filled while five Class II officers posts for psychiatrists have been filled. So, seven psychiatrists are currently treating indoor and outdoor patients. Two posts of clinical psychologists are also vacant.
Phadnis admitted that there was a shortage of doctors and corrective measures are being taken to address this. “We plan to introduce these courses from this academic year and are waiting for approvals and registrations from concerned bodies. For instance, for the diploma in psychiatric nursing course, there are a total of 20 seats and permission is awaited from the Maharashtra Nursing Council. Agreements are in process with Pune University and Karve Institute for MPhil course in clinical psychology, which will have eight seats, and MPhil course in psychiatric social worker, which will also have eight seats,” he said.
“There is a need to stress and focus upon a patient-friendly approach and set up rehabilitation centres apart from encouraging open wards where family members can stay,” an official said.