Monday, November 6, 2017

Youth 4 well being group demands for strict action against restaurant/bar owner for supplying alcohol to underage people...

Youth 4 well being group demands for strict action against a liquor licensee (restaurant/bar owner/seller) for supplying alcohol to underage people... the group further added that young people are victims of marketing strategies of alcohol industry and should be protected...
The next time you offer an underage friend or relative a drink at a restro-bar, be prepared to face a pep talk from excise department officials.

The Delhi government’s excise department has decided to counsel and take written undertakings from customers in pubs and restro-bars who are caught sharing or ordering liquor for friends/relatives under 25 years in age.

Sources in the department said teams would conduct surprise checks at restro-bars across the city. “People often come in to lounge bars, order drinks and pass it on to their underage friends or relatives. We have decided to go have a chat with anyone doing so and ask them to give a written undertaking that they won’t offer liquor to an underage person again,” an official said.

At present, the Delhi’s excise law lays down strict action against a liquor licensee (restaurant/bar owner/seller) for supplying alcohol to underage people. But, it does not prescribe any action for a third party or a person caught violating the rule

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Right to Survival...

There was a spurt in suicides by farmers in Telangana last week. Worldwide  800,000  people commit suicide every year. Of these 1,35,000  [17%] are Indians! ]
By: T.K Thomas,   Oct 24, 2017

Recently, an addiction prevention expert and activist  and chairman of NADA India Foundation Suneel Vatsyayan  who works on mental health issues was interacting with a large number of marginalized children in the Mangolpuri area of the National Capital organized by Dr.  A.V.Baliga Trust. As part of the session he showed them a recent television interview with popular Hindi film actress Deepika Padukune. The focus of the programme was on the screen diva’s experience and views on depression. The children reacted differently and one of their unanimous reactions was their consternation at a celebrity like Deepika suffering from depression. It was beyond their comprehension as to how such a leading actor and daughter of a former World Badminton Champion who is adored by millions and has everything and leads a high profile life of opulence in the lap of luxury could suffer from depression. They were under the impression that depression was synonymous with poverty and deprivation and affected the poor and the needy. The mental health expert explained to them that depression does not discriminate between the rich and the poor and transcends all barriers.

One of the major scourges of modern man across the globe is depression. Depression is a ‘’neurotic or psychotic disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent in sleeping, feelings of rejection and hopelessness and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”[ Encyclopedia   Britannica ]. Mankind has been plagued by depression since the days of the father of modern medicine, Greek physician Hippocrates [460-377 B.C]. In fact he considered ‘Father of Modern Medicine’ called depression ‘melancholia’. Depression continues to haunt modern man.  According to the American Association of Suicidology, depression is the psychiatric diagnosis, most commonly associated with suicides. Lifetime risk for depression ranges from 6.7% overall to 40% in men and 30% in women. Depression is reportedly present at least 50% of all suicide and those suffering from depression are at 25 times greater risk for suicide than general population. These indeed are frightening figures in a country with inadequate mental health services.

The National Crime Records Bureau’s Report for 2015 on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India in its chapter on suicides makes the following observations:-“Each suicide is a personal tragedy that prematurely takes the life of an individual and has a continuing ripple effect, dramatically affecting the lives of families, friends and communities. Every year more than 1,00,000 people commit suicide in our country’”, The causes for suicides, according to the Report include professional/career problems, discrimination, sense of isolation, violence, family problems, mental disorders, addiction to alcohol, financial loss, chronic pain etc. The states with highest number of suicides are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

The tiny state of Sikkim has a major problem of suicides.  One was in Sikkim for over a year and was extremely happy to be in one of the most prosperous, peaceful and clean state with salubrious climate blessed by nature. Beneath the serenity there was a strange feature of young people committing suicide. Unemployment and unattainable levels of aspirations probably have an impact on the happy go lucky youth of Sikkim to be prone to suicidal tendencies.  The popularity of Korean television serials, the lifestyle and fashion portrayed in them and identifying with the Korean serial characters might have a negative impact on the youth there. The Sikkim Police, incidentally, has a helpline to help those who have suicidal tendencies.

Think of newspaper headlines on suicides. In 1991 following the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in Sriperambadur in Tamil Nadu, there was a manhunt for the main accused Sivarasan and six of his accomplices. The investigating team had definite information that the fugitives were holed up in a building near Bangalore. By the time the team entered the building Sivarasan had shot himself on the head and the six others had swallowed cyanide capsules and committed suicide. These seven suicides hit the headlines the next day and many days following that day. The stories were more about the commando operation and graphic details about the futile chase. Of course there were some information about the seven people who committed suicide and a few media discussed the motivation and determination of the LTTE cadres who did not want to surrender and instead preferred taking their own lives. Only a psychologist or psychiatrist can explain that motivation and mindset.

The following headings may sound familiar to you. “Telangana man Slits Wife’s Throat in front of Children and Attempts Suicide”; “Man Kills, Wife and two Children and then kills himself”, “Student Jumps from High rise Apartments : Suicide suspected”, “Rape Victim Commits Suicide” `etc. There may be some details given by the police or eye witnesses in the stories, but the human tragedy or the motive behind the sordid tales may generally be absent.  No one seems to be interested in investigating whether those suicides could be prevented. We also see with some regularity about ‘Fidayeen attacks or attacks by suicide squads. Here they are fired by whatever ideology they believe and a rare determination to lay down one’s life. Some think that they are sacrificing for a cause or it is for a divine reward.

Ritualistic suicides were in vogue in the days of yore in Japan. The Samurai or warrior who failed to accomplish a task for his emperor or country practiced a custom called ‘Seppuku’ or ‘Hara kiri’. They did self embowelment  of a ritual suicide by jumping face down on a sword. This was also done when disgraced, as a way to protect honour or to demonstrate loyalty.  In the ancient practice of Sati a widow would commit suicide by jumping into the funeral pyre of her husband.  This had religious or cultural approval till it was banned in 1829 by Governor General William Bentinck under pressure from social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy.  

The legal, ethical, religious and moral aspects of Euthanasia or mercy killing [considered doctor assisted suicide] of terminally ill patients are being debated in many countries including ours where there are demands for legalizing the practice. Countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have already given legal sanction to Euthanasia.

The media often tend to sensationalize suicides as interesting news items without bothering much about the human beings affected by the suicide by an individual. If the victims of suicides are celebrities media would have very detailed investigative reporting and hype such coverage. Stories on the human, preventive or awareness creating aspects of suicides are rarities.   Some channels did interview Deepika Padukone, probably because of the star value. It was indeed thoughtful of her to speak candidly and admit that she has had a problem of depression and that she had sought medical help. It would have helped many people to realize that depression is a mental health issue that requires treatment.  Media especially the news channels which spend precious prime time discussing inane subjects also have a social responsibility to inform and educate the average citizen about the growing tendency in the country for people to commit suicide. The fact is that if people have to be told that a majority of suicides are preventable if proper and timely counseling is provided after identifying people with suicidal tendencies.

It is not just the media but the civil society organizations, peer support groups, educational institutions and religious institutions which can help prevent at least a limited number of suicides. As a majority of suicide cases are of students and young people, focus has to be on these groups. It is heartening that a large number of schools have counselors. There are civil society initiatives of help lines like Aasra[ Mumbai], I Call [Mumbai], Sneha[Chennai], Nagpur Suicide Prevention helpline, Connecting India[Pune], Sumaitri [New Delhi], Lifeline Foundation[Kolkata] , Thanal, Prathyasa,  Prateeksha[ all in Kerala]etc. These online services provide counseling services to the needy.

With resources and volunteers, religious organizations can do a lot in preventing suicides and helping families of those who have committed suicide. Priests and religious leaders have credibility in their communities and their messages could be based on their holy scriptures. Hinduism considers suicide as spiritually unacceptable and as a violation of the code of Ahimsa. While in Jainism any killing –self inflicted or otherwise is the worst form of Himsa. Christian tenet is that ‘thou shall not murder’ and suicide is murder of the self. Again, suicide is the rejection of God’s gift of physical life. According to the Quran, ’And Do not kill yourselves’ does not approve of suicides. Worshipping houses are the right places to effectively advice and counsel gullible young people.  

According to Suneel Vatsyayan at   the policy planning levels there appears to be a statistics oriented approach whereas what is needed is clear psycho, social and medical solutions to problems like depression, suicide, addiction and a host of other mental health issues. Of course earlier this month World Mental Health Day was observed and World Congress of Mental Health is being held in Delhi from 3-5 November. Such events can bring to sharp public focus, mental health issues including human rights especially the right to survival.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let us talk: .More BSF personnel are dying of mental illnesses than in the line of duty,..

When celebrities such as Deepika Padukone speak openly about their struggles with depression and anxiety, it helps reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues
Hindustan Times

It is not a sight we see very often in the Indian context. I am referring to Deepika Padukone speaking openly about her battle with depression a while ago. “When I was in pain, suffering alone… I was going about my day, posing for cameras… signing autographs. What nobody saw was that I would break down for no reason …getting out of bed was a struggle,” she wrote in Hindustan Times earlier this week. What made a successful actor, the daughter of a badminton world champion, go out on a limb and discuss her struggle to overcome depression? When I was reading about Deepika Padukone’s encounters with mental problems, I was reminded of the virtually unknown RK Shukla.

Unlike Padukone, Shukla never got a chance to face up to his anxieties and survive to tell the tale. Driven to tipping point by workplace stress, the Madhya Pradesh police head constable committed suicide when he was asked to clean drains on Gandhi Jayanti. Two days later, BSF jawan Dharam Singh shot himself with his service rifle at Sukma in Chhattisgarh, a hotbed of Naxalite insurgency. A few months before this, in separate incidents, three other Central Reserve Police Force jawans killed themselves in a similar fashion at camps in Bijapur, Dhamtari and Sukma.

This spate of suicides in the ranks of India’s police and central armed forces reminded me of a statement that BSF director general KK Sharma made during a workshop on mental health a few months ago: More BSF personnel are dying of mental illnesses than in the line of duty, Sharma had said. What is driving this cycle of depression, melancholy and subsequent suicide? In a demanding profession that entails putting in inhumanly long hours along with the responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s frontiers, the added burden of mental illness could prove to be the proverbial last straw that breaks the soldiers’ back.
Read more

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

22 lakh Punjabis are addicted to alcohol and 16 lakh to tobacco....victim needs barrier free services

#Mission barrier services
Projected number of victims of substance use (Alcohol,Tobacco & Drugs) may vary from one study to other...the truth is all about the suffering of people living with substance use disorder and their family members . Govt. and NGOs need to look at the issue of underutilization of existing drug treatment and rehabilitation services in the Punjab . For example Punjab’s first government-run rehabilitation centre for addicts was opened in Amritsar in 2015, according to press reports the patient so far count reflects its failure to become a trusted facility. This, even as addicts flock to private centres in the city and elsewhere. Not once has the Rs 5-crore, 50-bed facility been filled to capacity. 
According to the PGI study, while 22 lakh Punjabis are addicted to alcohol and 16 lakh to tobacco, less than 1 per cent may be hooked on drugs. The single most common substance used is alcohol (22 lakh), followed by tobacco (16 lakh). The study team surveyed 6,398 households in all 22 Punjab districts, picking 22 cities and 22 villages in each district. The total number of respondents was 13,295, the age group 11 to 60 years. The figures however contradict Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's claimed while addressing a gathering in Chandigarh in 2012 that 70 per cent of Punjab's youth were hooked to drugs. Earlier on May 5, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had set up a two-member committee to prepare a de-addiction and rehabilitation plan for drug addicts in the state. The committee has been set up after studying the outreach model suggested by an eminent American drug therapist and consultant. Amarinder has asked the two-member committee, comprising Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, to work closely with PGI specialists to develop a focused strategy to strengthen the states network of drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres.

Read more at:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Teen Deaths in India...time to change our National Health Priorities for young India

·         Teen Deaths in IndiaFigures provided in the HT article related to teen deaths (Self Harm) are really alarming and provide a new window to look at our National health priorities for young people once again.Today we can see around how stereotypes about people with mental health problems, including alcohol dependence, are portrayed in movies, mass media and press, with the use of derogatory terms such as “psycho” or “nuts” or in Hindi “Paagal”. We see depictions of them as being violent and dangerous people. This portrayal of mental health in popular culture becomes a major source of stress for young people effected and affected by mental illness and addiction. The young people are going through personal crises beyond these manifestations. The Young India has been ignored. These socially transmitted conditions and crisis are not addressed adequately by people around them and policy makers.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

NCDs in India – The problem & the mandate to act

Healthy India Alliance In India, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for a staggering 60% of all deaths. The country stands to lose $4.58 trillion before 2030 due to NCDs and mental health conditions. Cardiovascular diseases, accounting for $2.17 trillion and mental health conditions ($1.03 trillion) will contribute to major economic losses. The mounting social and economic costs of NCDs warrant immediate action to mitigate its long term effects.

NCDs in India – The problem & the mandate to act

In wake of growing evidence on the impact of NCDs on India’s economy and social fabric, Health Ministers in India have time and again echoed views of health experts on the need for a comprehensive model for NCDs and mass awareness campaigns. Following the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, 2013-2020, India became the first country to adopt a set of 10 National targets as part of India’s National Action Plan (link is external) to reduce premature NCD mortality by 25% by 2025. In addition to the set of 9 global targets under WHO Global Monitoring Framework for NCDs, India stepped up to adopt a tenth target of reducing household air pollution (link is external) by 50% by 2025.

A diverse but unified civil society will strengthen the response to NCDs

In 2015, a consultation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the South-East Asian Region was organized by NCD Alliance and the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office to advance NCD prevention and control in the Region.  The meeting of CSOs from diverse sectors led to the formation of the Healthy India Alliance, with the aim to facilitate active participation of health and non-health CSOs in the prevention and control of NCDs through effective policies, partnerships and programmes. The Alliance, set up by a group of reputed, pan-India organisations committed to NCD prevention and control, now includes 16 CSO members working on a range of aspects related to NCDs and their risk factors, including advocacy, multi-pronged research, policy reviews and health promotion programmes and campaigns. The involvement of well-established and reputed organisations on a common platform like the Healthy India Alliance will make the civil society voice stronger and add credibility to NCD related campaigns in India.

Building momentum: Early Days, Strong Commitment, watch this space

The First National Civil Society Consultation on NCDs in India was organised by the Healthy India Alliance with support from the WHO Country Office for India, NCD Alliance and American Cancer Society from 25th to 27thApril 2016. Over 80 CSOs from all over the country participated in the two and a half day Consultation and committed to join efforts to achieve India’s NCD targets.

Speaking at the inaugural of the consultation, Prof. K.S. Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India and Governing Board member of the new Alliance said,

“The role of the Healthy India Alliance is to catalyse NCD prevention in the country by providing a platform for health and non-health organisations to partner for collaborative civil society action on NCDs under the Sustainable Development Goals.”
He added that: 

“It is an historic moment for the country that the Healthy India Alliance is instrumental at an early stage of the SDGs.”

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Youth 4 Well being @Delhi University