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State’s only Mental Health Institute suffers official neglect
By Vivek Dhyani | Wed, 29 -Feb, 2012

DEHRADUN, 28 Feb: The State Mental Health Institute at Selaqui is the only institute of its kind in the state. The hospital was established in the year 2008 for treatment of the thousands of mentally ill people in Uttarakhand.
At that time, the hospital had only thirty beds in the general ward and only one psychiatrist to attend to all the patients. It’s quite surprising that, even after four years, the hospital is still limited to the same thirty beds and the same psychiatrist. There are no guards and no matrons in the hospital. Moreover, no driver has ever been appointed to run the only ambulance there. This undoubtedly raises serious questions about the hospital administration and government approach.
Dr JS Bisht, the only government psychiatrist in the state, affirmed that the situation was grave, and needed to be solved quickly.
In a conversation with Garhwal Post, he shared the problems being faced by the hospital. “There are some problems that are needed to be taken seriously by the government and resolved as soon as possible. First of all, there is no adequate infrastructure. How could we possibly accommodate all the patients in only 30 beds that we have at present. There is only one psychiatrist for thousands of needy people in the state. The hospital is severely under staffed and somehow managing to keep the patients who ought to be shifted to rehabilitation centres,” revealed Bisht, underlining that that was no such government rehabilitation centre in the state where the patients could be transferred.
Broadly classifying the patients, he said they were either voluntary or involuntary patients. “The voluntary patients are usually accompanied by their family members and cooperate with doctors, but involuntary patients are quite uncooperative and don’t wish to get cured. The case becomes worse, when a mentally ill destitute person is brought to the hospital and cannot be transferred to another place even after he is cured to a certain level. Usually, the mentally ill destitutes are brought by police at the order of magistrates,” explained Bisht. He further said that there were almost half of a dozen such patients occupying the already limited beds in the hospital.
It can be figured out from the weekly schedule of the psychiatrist how busy he is. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I see patients at the Doon Hospital. On Thursday and Saturday, I treat patients at the Mental Health Institute, Selaqui,” said the doctor, urging that the government appoint more psychiatrists in the state. He also mentioned his regular visits to the Nari Niketan Sansthan, jails in Dehradun and Haridwar and other such places. Bisht demanded that at least two senior and two junior psychiatrists be appointed at the hospital. “Studies show that more than 8-10% of the people in the state suffer from some form of psychiatric problem, and the only hospital located here doesn’t have adequate infrastructure and doctors to deal with them. The absence of a government rehabilitation centre is causing serious problems for us,” lamented Bisht.
He also confirmed that more than 80% of the staff was contract based and several departments were completely absent in the staff like security and drivers. When asked why he didn’t bring these problems to light, he asserted, “These problems are raised from time to time by the CMS, but the matter has never been taken with the required seriousness.”
A sad comment on the attitude of those who claim to provide 21st Century leadership!

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