We deal with 75-80 patients suffering from mental illness and our OPD witnesses 750 patients every day, says JN Chaudhary, Chairman, Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health, Neuro & Allied Sciences (VIMHANS) in conversation with Neha Thakur of ENN
Tell us about VIMHANS, its focus areas and specialities.
At VIMHANS we have many focus areas, such as in Mental Health we have psychiatry, psychology,in Neurosciences – Neurosurgery, Neurology, Interventional Neuro Radiology.
The hospital also runs mental health and Neuro rehab centers for patients. These centres function on highly subsidised basis.
In the Mind Body Centre we provide services in specialties like health psychology, Ayurveda and Panchkarma hypnotherapy, yoga, NLP, energy medicine.
Allied specialties include cardiology, internal medicine, general and minimal invasive surgery, etc. Special emphasis is laid on the care of the elderly, ranging from acute to chronic and home care as well.
Since 2000 we have many training programmes like, internship programmes for undergraduates and post graduates. Train the Trainer programmes include regular workshops with school counsellors. Home Care Workers Training programme has its 21st Batch in progress.
The services at VIMHANS are complemented with infrastructure, facilities, backup support system and medical equipments. VIMHANS, as part of its social responsibility runs a rural health care centre in village Saidul Ajaib, in Mehrauli which is in Delhi.
The hospital conducts free medical camps in various disciplines every month at the centre and in various slums and villages in the district.
“1 percent of the world population suffers from psychosis and 3-4 percent of people undergo neurosis in their lifetime”
How healthy are people in terms of mental health in India?
Although we do not have the exact figures, but people are actually not mentally healthy, the reason for not having proper statistics is the taboo associated with mental illness. In India one percent of people have psychosis and remaining 4-5 percent are variable.
In the last two decades medicines have definitely helped overcome mental illness. However with increasing pace of life, mental illness is a common scenario in kids and adults today. When compared to Western countries Indians are more prone to mental and brain disorders due to lack of awareness.
How many patients does VIMHANS cater to everyday and how well equipped is it to deal with rising number of patients?
We have several patients on daily basis. Our OPD has almost 750 patients a day, out of which 75/80 are mentally ill patients. Therefore, you can say that almost 300 patients visit VIMHANS everyday for various brain and neurological disorders.
What are your expectations from the new government?
My expectations are very nominal from the new government. I want them to eradicate poverty which is the root cause of several health problems. Putting the available resources into insurance should also be implemented.
The government must allocate adequate funds towards health sector which is missing at the moment. At the legislative level and bill also, I feel the government can do much better than what it is doing right now. No doubt, the government is giving good remuneration to the doctors as well as the hospitals, but a lot more has to be done for the welfare of hospitals.
What are the latest technology and developments initiated at the VIMHANS?
Holistic aspect of mental health treatment is to be focussed. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been partly useful in treating chronic depression. Earlier patients dealing with MRIs felt relieved so, now MRI is being used as a therapy.
Today, mental illness symptoms got better with magnetic treatments. Also procedures for major mental health issues like OCD (Obsessive compulsive Disorders) are treated with gamma knives. Certain parts of brain are targeted and burnt through radiation. Although laws of such procedures are not clean and efficient but hopefully they will become fruitful soon. Basically, modern medical instruments can control 90 percent of the illness in patients.
What are the challenges faced by VIMHANS and how do you plan to resolve it?
There are many challenges in terms of infrastructure. We wish to expand the campus and surroundings. We want adequate funds to be allocated to the hospital and also in general health care, although transition is there with private sectors providing better care and facility but it will take long time before it establishes itself well. We are finishing two buildings in the campus. One allocated for the cancer ward and the other for the multi-speciality.
We are better off as compared to the West in terms of value and family support system, which is why the number of mental cases are less than abroad
What kind of specialised Psychiatry treatments are given to mentally ill patients?
All sorts of counselling and treatments are offered to the patients depending upon the intensity and severity. For example people with mild depression are given prolonged counselling and those with chronic or genetic depression are given anti-depressants for a longer period of time. In severe cases they are admitted for a longer treatment through counselling, medications and psychotherapies.
Tell us why you think there are raising cases of people suffering from depression among kids and adults?
These days our society has become individualistic and highly impatient. And nuclear families are also fast coming up. Given the rising competition, diminishing family support system and career pressures people are getting self obsessed and highly engaged in their own lives. With negligible social life and fast lifestyle in cities, most people are becoming prone to depression. It is more prent among kids because of working parents and no siblings to share their thoughts to. While adults can still learn ways to cope with stress and brain disorders, it is actually the kids who are absolutely helpless.
How different is VIMHANS from NIMHANS Bangalore?
NIMHANS Bangalore is centrally funded hospital. It has more than 1200 bed facility and is much better equipped to handle numerous cases. And we are less than 100 beds and a non profit NGO organisation, but we do help in clinical work and offer internships including practical training. We basically send our professionals to NIMHANS.
What are the various types of neurological and mental disorders that you come across daily?
There are two main mental health categories Psychosis and Neurosis. Then there is Schizophrenia, bipolar (Mood disorders). Neurosis comprises of Anxiety and panic attacks, alcohol and substance abuse. Most of the Neurosis mental cases are life-long which require proper dosage of medications.
These medicines are reversible one that overcomes the issues that eradicate depression from its roots. One percent of the entire world has psychosis and 3-4 percent of people have neurosis in their entire lifetime. Overall mental health covers 20 percent of illness in Britain that is close to 16 percent of cancer.
Where do you see VIMHANS by way of IT five years from now?
Five years from now, I wish to see VIMHANS expanding in areas like IT and medical facilities. I feel slum and poor areas must have better access to basic health care system. We wish to improve our rehabilitation area in terms of infrastructure and availability of medical staffs. The government must also become pro active in terms of improving health sector by taking various new initiatives for enhancement of health sector.
IT in medicine field has enough potential to transform the health image in India and can really be the game changer. We have several machines, where image capturing facility is available during surgeries. These images help a doctor review his performance post surgeries.