5-Apr-2013, The Hindu
KOCHI : The much-neglected mental healthcare sector in the State is likely to get a boost with the Cabinet sanctioning 99 posts of psychiatrists, nurses and supporting staff for the government mental health centres.
The Cabinet on Wednesday okayed creating these posts at Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram mental health centres. The posts include five psychiatrists (one senior consultant, two consultants, two junior consultants) one assistant surgeon and ten nurses at each centre. Each centre will also get ten nursing assistants and six Grade II employees.
This is in addition to the recently created posts of two junior consultants and 20 nurses for each centre. This would mean that each of the three mental health centres would get an additional eight doctors and 30 nurses, apart from the supporting staff.
There was widespread criticism that the 2013-14 State Budget had neglected the mental health care sector in spite of urgent measures sought by the Estimates Committee of the Assembly. The committee, headed by V.D. Satheesan, MLA, had called for substantially increasing the medical and paramedical staff at the three mental health centres, better infrastructure and security, a new master plan for their development, and a plan for mental health rehabilitation. It had also recommended decentralisation of mental healthcare with all the district hospitals providing care and the three mental health centres as referral centres.
Mr. Satheesan said a meeting of legislators and policymakers would held in the presence of the Chief Minister next month to address the issues in the mental healthcare sector. The government would be coming out with a mental healthcare policy soon. The infrastructure at the centres would be developed in two stages. Master plans for the buildings, with innovative architecture, would be formulated.
Welcoming the sanctioning of the new posts, Dr. Jayaprakashan K.P., State general secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society, told The Hindu that the increase in the staff strength would improve the mental health care in the State. He, however, said infrastructural needs of the three centres should be taken care of urgently, too.
A senior psychiatrist, however, said finding qualified psychiatrists for the new posts was a tough task as there was heavy shortage of psychiatrists in the country.