Pandemic forced lakhs to seek mental health support in Maharashtra, Health News, ET HealthWorld

MUMBAI: The Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on mental health led a record number of people—3.5 lakh—to seek counselling and treatment from the public health system in Maharashtra in 2020-21.

In Mumbai, another 80,000 people have called up BMC-Mpower helpline for Covid-related grief since April 2020.

“In 2020, we counselled many migrants who were leaving the state due to Covid and we also held special OPD counselling clinics, resulting in a higher outreach,” said Dr Sadhana Tayade, state deputy director of health services. The growth in state services can be judged from the fact that only 1.3 lakh reached out to the state district mental health network in 2016-17. In 2021 so far, 1.19 lakh have been helped. “These numbers don’t include the patients with chronic diseases under treatment at state government hospitals for long,” said a state official.

Activists said the pandemic has demonstrated the need to upgrade mental health services within the public health system. “Covid has disrupted lives. An online support group for those in grief caused by Covid has seen steady members for the last few months,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, who is partnering with NGO Mpower for the initiative.

The group has parents, siblings

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