Congress in RS demands active govt policy to deal with rising mental health issues

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NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday said in Rajya Sabha that there has been an exponential growth in mental health issues amid the COVID-19 crisis, and the government should come out with an active policy and allocate resources to address the problem.

The Samajwadi Party also expressed concern over the issue of mental stress being faced by organised and unorganised workers due to joblessness in the wake of the pandemic and demanded that the government provide a monthly allowance Rs 15,000 monthly to those who lost jobs.

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Raising the issue during the Zero Hour in the Upper House, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said reports indicate that one in seven persons in India is suffering from depression.

“The number of persons affected by mental health issues has exponentially increased after the COVID crisis especially students and children who are committing suicide across the country,” he said.

This is because many children are not able to access online study, non-availability of midday meals and fear of getting affected by coronavirus, he added.

In this situation, the Congress leader said efforts should be made to educate and sensitise the society about mental diseases.

He demanded that mental illness must mandatorily be put under the ambit of life insurance. This will help people see mental illness with the same lens as that of physical diseases.

Sharma also said both the Centre and state governments need to evolve innovative modes to deepen penetration of services and set up helplines and counselling centres across the country.

It is disturbing that suicides are happening in India every 3.30 minutes. India accounts for 15 per cent of the total number of suicides in the world. Out of 8 lakh suicides happening in the world, 1.39 lakh suicides are in India, he added.

During the Zero Hour, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said many people are jobless after the COVID-19 induced lockdown and are going through stress. In the last 3-4 months in Noida alone, 44 people have committed suicide and 175 people have died, he said. He appealed to the government to provide Rs 15,000 monthly allowance to those who lost jobs due to the lockdown to ensure they do not die of hunger.