The status of mental health care in India: Interview with Vikram Patel

Vikram Patel is a psychiatrist, professor of international mental health and senior clinical research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is best known for his work on child development and mental disability in low-resource settings. Patel was named in the annual list of 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2015

Last Updated: Friday 03 June 2016

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • Dear Sir, I write from home in Louvain, Belgium. I took a look at four different news items offered by DTE, including the interview with dr. psychiatrist V. Patel, after friend Prakash, professionally active in this domain in India and NY, shared items with me on facebook. I have mixed feelings. I am surprised and saddened to learn that such high percentages of Indian and Chinese people are suffering from mental health problems, up to 70 percent and more. We see diagnosises as PTSD, Depression, Anxieties... Also in beautiful Mountaneous area's like Kashmir! Even if echo's from fast growing cities with extreme suicide numbers have reached me earlier, and the famous suicide problem in India's farmer's world, a problem connected to bad bank practices. On the other hand, I am pleased to notice that press is frank and is adressing with clear speech these problems. In Belgium, I have been pioneering in this, with opinion articles in leading magazine and papers like De Standaard since the mid nineties. As a historian and having had a case in the family of my own mother, it struck me early in life, that we have the highest suicide rate in Europe. And Belgium features copious clinics for patients with dire problems connected to their view on the meaning of life, and gruelling inner feelings. In my view, Belgian politics do not take serious enough yet the immense problem. Maybe out of shame, or out of a lack of sense of duty and responsibility towards the people they lead, or maybe the political mentality is taken over by the novelty of the events? At any rate, somehow I feel empowered in my research & lobbying work and in my devotion to the fellow citizens deprived of normal health and what I would like to call a natural life satisfaction, by the knowledge that the Indian People, known to me through personal encounters, press items and famous international novels, suffer from the same plague... Als world citizens today, indeed, as the president of the USA, Barack Obama underlines often, "We are all in the same boat". Maybe, on the outlook for tackling the Predicament, we must not stop looking forward towards a well developed future, but must we simultaneously seek to rediscover wisdom from the traditions that fostered fulfilled lives for our ancestors? They are like the cultural genes that have supported our forefathers, and that have been tested and purified through litterally millions of years. Those chore human needs include the beneficial effects of enouhg acces to Silence, to physical movement, the possibility to create warm family bonds, especially for the infants, and acces to cultural food for the minds, apart from healty food for the bodies, for all. Patience as well as eager perspicacity and activist attitudes will serve us in in moving forward to reach the goals, as well as a beneficial humility that can source in our religiosity as well in a modern interest in deep thruths. Thruts that can set human beings free, day after day, year after year. Best wishes, Stef Solfrian Hublou Vojvoditz

    Posted by: Stef Solfrian Hublou Vojvoditz | 4 years ago | Reply