The Meghalaya cabinet has approved a policy aimed at addressing issues of mental health and social care through collaborative engagement with communities, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said. Meghalaya is the third state in the country to have introduced such a policy, paying attention to issues of mental health, especially among children, adolescents and youth, he said.
Officials said that the new policy seeks to address the social determinants of mental ill-health and ensure cultural security with collaborative engagement with the communities it intends to serve. It also aims to promote overall mental health and wellbeing and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways for common and severe mental health concerns, with focus on person-centred care.
Health Minister James PK Sangma stated that the policy was culturally-rooted in the state, and looks to address the stigma linked with mental health. "It is a community-centric initiative and will improve recognition, rehabilitation and reformation, necessary for creating awareness and building support systems," he explained.
Sangma noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to devise an inclusive and robust institutional response, especially for vulnerable groups. Kerala and Karnataka are the other two states in the country to have such policies. In 2014, the Centre launched the first-ever National Mental Health Policy in an attempt to provide universal psychiatry care.
On World Mental Health Day, the Meghalaya government had announced that the state would soon have a mental health policy. Accordingly, feedback from the civil society members was received and those were incorporated into the draft policy, after which it was placed before the cabinet, a senior health official told PTI.
The policy will be implemented through the convergence of different departments, while strengthening human resources and community institutions, including financial support and infrastructure, he added.
(With PTI inputs)