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India Mental Health

Leilana Bill

Dr. Clif Stratton

May 4th, 2016

India Mental Health

            Mental health is a newly talked about problem that has occurred for years, many large countries help to provide for their people with proper care and needs necessary to fix mental health problems. Even with the research towards mental health small countries seem to suffer and people are not being helped, India for example, lacks the necessary materials to properly help their people. In this essay I will explore the ideas of mental health in India and how they have tremendously suffered with mental health beginning in the 1850s; further examining how they treated mental health then and how it continues to be untreated.

Thesis: The abundant disregard for the people of India shows the ongoing abuse their people face due to the lack of a prominent healthcare system. India is a country that suffers from many problems beginning with the lack of care for their lands to the disregard of their own people. Dating back to the start of a developing country of India, when it was taken over by Britain, India public health then resulting in a downfall and not equipped health care was provided for the people. Indian people then went on to suffer furthermore without having the right doctors to being diagnosed correctly, and still lack the care necessary leaving them unhealthy mentally and physically. India’s population has been known to suffer with mental health for quite some time now. With the lack of proper care brought to the people the number of people suffering from this illness only grows larger. Even in this day and age, with the discovery of medications and remedies, people still aren’t properly cared for. There has not been much change from when mental health was being sought out in the early stages of medical services. With the lack of materials, India has used other techniques to fix their dire metal health problems. Throughout this paper, I will focus on the mental healthcare and how the people have benefited or not befitted from these services.

In British-India,

Figure 1
Figure 1

being that it was colonized, there were many things unfair and resulting in treatment towards the sick and mentally ill patients. When British- India had happened many things were changed and developed places for research and made new rules to follow which of course lead to a messy health care. People in result were treated unfair and placed in different places.[1] Such as the regards of race, like the ones of color. [2]“The colonial doctors thought that their black patients were fundamentally different from whites and that their mental experiences would reflect that.” The reports or notes on the black patients are not accurate or show a case for mentally ill person, they could just be wrongly accused. This could then be said about other mentally ill patients who were put in the asylums when they did not need be. To think now in the 21st century that wouldn’t still be a problem but it still happens not even by color but for those who are deemed unfit for living.

In an article dated back to 1933, [3]it states about an ever so growing population that is over taking leading to a rapid spread of diseases all around such as, small pox in rural areas. They did however think of improving the public’s health by, having more nurses, and red cross readily available to help aid people. They made deals with Britain because of British India being tied together and had to work to improve of public health. In one book something that stood out to me was, [4] “The role of medical officers in shaping public health policy in British India can be fully understood in the light of their aspirations, priorities, and grievances.” The medical service dates back to 1600 with medical surgeons coming over in a ship to provide help but a medical facility was not founded until 1763. The medical services have changed with the presence of war and military power, becoming more important than personal needs and overlooking Indian’s need for a proper healthcare system. In article titled lunacy in India they go into detail of the accounts of how astounding the numbers of India people who are mutually ill. The newspaper also goes into how they are n humanely treated and those who committed crimes can’t stand for trails will have someone else do it for them. This article doesn’t go into the truth of the matter of the state of India people being treated and that their n humanely care isn’t very much so.[5]

A look back at the diagnoses goes as far back as the 1850s and show just how corrupt the mental healthcare system was for the Indian people. Within colonized areas there was abuse of power over the people in the area. Causing the people to be treated with unfair care and some not being provided the proper treatment available at the time.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Taking a look back, people were divided by age, gender, and diagnosis. [6]With having some doctors not being properly equipped for the position, some patients ages were not correct. [7]“Indeed, entries on some of the case notes seem to support patient which might later be changed as more information became available or renewed attempts at estimation were made.” This went on to put some patients in the wrong care being released earlier based on their estimated age. This improper care went on with tons of helpless patients. India’s metal health issues often go unnoticed and lacks many necessary sources to back up the occurring problem. Mental health is a topic of public health mostly talked about in recent years.  In an article dating back to 1923 they describe a plague taking over India and how it spreading had to do with the not sanitized hospitals. The primary source comes from a book, the intended public I believe is everyone who is public health service and just as a public series announcement. I would say the status of the doctor is trying to help as for the author has no race or social biases or maybe a slight one as to why isn’t help being given.[8]

Many patients were determined diagnosed incorrect causing people to be improperly placed with the wrong care. Different asylums treated different behavior’s differently than others did, this then resulted in problematic things, some being placed with being called mania or crazy for stressed but other asylums would give different treatment for the same illness. Some asylums divided people in two categories, first being in a certain physical condition and second being specific types of behavior.

Figure 3
Figure 3

Similar to the Lawrence Asylum pictured here, the Dacca Lunatic Asylum in 1867 was known to divided them into different places based on the categories. They didn’t touch on mental condition but rather how the patients treated themselves, which does not always show problems of mental duress. [9]Explaining of physical condition, such as one patient who was in the hospital for 7 months and they wrote up her physical traits of sickness and only once touched on her mental state of saying she appeared odd. This problem was recurring and still not fully corrected.

Mental health happens and could be helped by local healthcare but lacks in some countries due to the abundant deficit of resources. India has proven to be just not fully capable to help serve these individuals in need. The mental healthcare system in India is slowly improving due to the decline of patients in need of medical care. India is changing the care for mental health today is by pairing up with another country. [10]University of Melbourne has signed an agreement with the Indian Health and Family Welfare ministry to help improve national mental health system in India. This is to create an improved mental healthcare system for the country of India taking a huge step forward in the medical industry. With the help from University of Melbourne this may lower the increasing numbers of people with mental illness. [11]Low and medium-income countries reveal that more than 75 per cent of those identified with serious mental illness receive no care at all. With the partnership of these two countries they may be able to treat those who cannot afford health care and tremendously suffer on a daily basis.

To conclude from the start of India becoming a country there has been many problems that have occurred with the regard of mental health towards the Indian people. With British India becoming colonized they faced inadequate care with having wrong diagnoses, with doctors not knowing much about their health concerns leading them to be treated improperly. With these problems India being the most evolved country still has problems with treating their health problems. With the help from other countries India is slowly improving and finding proper care for their people.


Geographic Location: India; Asia. (May also include Australia, and other smaller undeveloped countries.)

Search Terms: India AND Mental Health

[1] Robb, Peter. History of India 157

[2] Mills, H, James. Madness, Cannabis, and Colonialism 25

[3] “Progress of Public Health in India”. 1933. “Progress of Public Health in India”. The British Medical Journal 2 (3789). BMJ: 338–39.

[4] Deodhar, N. S.. 1997. Review of Public Health in British India. Journal of Public Health Policy 18 (4). Palgrave Macmillan Journals: 489–92. doi:10.2307/3343532.

[5] “Lunacy in India”. 1901. “Lunacy in India”. The British Medical Journal 1 (2096). BMJ: 533–34.

[6] Mills, H, James. Madness, Cannabis, and Colonialism. Macmillan Press LTD: 2000, St. Martin’s Press, INC: 2000, 21

[7] Mills, H, James. Madness, Cannabis, and Colonialism 17

[8] “Progress of Public Health in India”. 1933. “Progress of Public Health in India”. The British Medical Journal 2 (3789). BMJ: 338–39.

[9] Mills, H, James. Madness, Cannabis, and Colonialism 28-30

[10] Natasha Chaku, “India-Australia collaborate to improve mental health system.” The Press Trust of India (2011, Sep 01). (January 19, 2016)

[11] The Press Trust of India, 2011, Sep 01


Figure 1:

Map of British India

Figure 2:

Charts from British-Indian Asylum

Figure 3:

Lawrence Asylum


Two Questions:

  1. Could services around the world help to end public health and if so what ways could they go about doing that?
  2. What is lead to bad public health, why wasn’t it fixed in the beginning?


Search Terms: India AND Mental Health

Search Terms: Public Health in India

Search Terms: Public Health in British India