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16.8% Bangladeshi adults suffer from mental health issues

  • Published at 12:27 pm November 7th, 2019
Health Minister Zahid Maleque addresses a dissemination program held at the Krishibid Institute on Thursday, November 7, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The survey was launched in April–June, 2019, to explore mental health scenario of the country through estimation of prevalence

Nearly 17% of adults in Bangladesh are suffering from mental health issues, where 16.8% are man and 17 % are woman, and among them 92.3% do not seek medical attention.

National Institute of Mental Health, with the technical guide of the World Health Organization (WHO), revealed the findings of the survey titled "National Mental Health Survey, Bangladesh 2018-19" at a program at Krishibid Institute in Dhaka on Thursday.

The survey was launched in April–June, 2019, to explore mental health scenario of the country through estimation of prevalence.

However, the first survey conducted in 2005 revealed the prevalence of 16.1% mental disorder in adult population in Bangladesh with 15.3% household members having mental issues.

Smokers in the household count to 41% and substance abuse is 1%, said the report.

Survey shows, 6.7% have depressive disorder, 4.5% anxiety, 2.1% somatic symptoms and related disorders, while 0.9% has sleep wake disorder, 0.7% suffer from obsessive compulsive and related disorders, 0.3% has neurodevelopment disorder, 0.3% neurocognitive disorders, 0.2% substance related and addictive disorders, 0.1% personality disorder, 0.1% sexual dysfunction and 0.01% have disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders. 

When people face problem with mental disorder, the researchers said, 5.7% of them think if they visit psychiatrists, they might treated as mad. 

In rural areas (16.2%) people suffer less mental disorder than urban (18.7%) area, it said.

According to the survey, 14% of children aged between seven to 17 years suffer from mental health issues and 94.5% of them do not seek medical attention.

The report also shows some parameter in different aspects of mental illness, such as patients with mental illness, are highly stigmatized where average stigma score is 4.5 out of 7 on stigma scale. 

Negative attitudes are highly prevalent with the average of 2.6 out of 5 attitude scales. 

Of the 56% treatment seekers, 33% avail treatment from private psychiatrists, while 23% approach to Ayurvedic, homeopathy or neuropathy psychiatrists. 

To improve the mental health services further, well-designed clinical and epidemiological research is needed, the surveyors said.

The latest survey puts fourth some recommendations including extensive awareness program involving electronic and printing media, distribution of Education and Communication materials, extensive training of PHC staffs, religious leaders and teachers, upgradation of MBBS curriculum with inclusion of psychiatry in an optimum stake, psychiatric unit at district level, development of psychiatry unit in all medical colleges, supply psychotropic in primary and secondary health care level institutes, an administrative wing under a separate director in Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on urgent basis, and develop an effective strategic plan according the disease burden. 

Speaking as chief guest, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said that awareness has to be increased from the primary to tertiary level. 

"It should have to work to eliminate social stigma or taboo for getting treatment for mental issues by various programs and activities," he said.

Mentioning that a course will be included in the MBBS program, the minister said: “Mental health is now getting privilege from national level. Meanwhile we have formulated Mental Health Act and will obviously try to solve the shortage of psychiatrist problem."

The minister also informed that he will take initiative to introduce a directorate for mental health issues. 

The program presided over by Professor Dr  Mohit Kamal, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Md Asadul Islam, secretary to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Professor Dr Mohammad Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of DGHS, Dr Bardan Jung Rana, representative of World Bank, among others, were present at the program. 

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