The mental health care is being integrated into primary health care services, as envisaged under the National Mental Health Programme. The orders have been issued that all general care physicians be provided regular training in handling mental health problems at the primary-care level.
The Health Department has revised the guidelines of the District Mental Health Programme so that all general care physicians in Health Services are trained to identify and treat those with mental illnesses in the primary or community health centres (PHCs or CHCs) itself. The idea is to impart sufficient training to the physicians in the periphery so that they can identify and treat mental illnesses early on.
The programme ensures that the patients are monitored regularly and all medications given free of cost. The programme has been so successful in the district that it brought down the number of in-patients at the Mental Health Centre by more than half and even received a commendation from the WHO. Integration of mental health into primary health care is all the more necessary because there is an acute shortage of qualified psychiatrists to cater to the huge number of patients requiring psychiatric care. Once primary-care physicians and pharmacists are given training, they can conduct weekly clinics for the mentally ill. The DMHP team can utilise its monthly clinic to attend to those serious cases that require more care.