Manipur: Strategic policy needed to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, says Dr RK Lenin Singh

Manipur: Strategic policy needed to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, says Dr RK Lenin Singh

The terrifying ongoing conflict that unfolded from past five months would have affected mental health of every section of society. The present crisis has given a lot of irreparable loss to society.

Manipur Violence (File Image) Manipur Violence (File Image)

The terrifying ongoing conflict that unfolded from past five months would have affected mental health of every section of society. The present crisis has given a lot of irreparable loss to society.

Many precious lives have been lost, property worth thousands damaged and thousands of people rendered homeless. This has resulted in many people undergoing emotional pain, agonies, frustration and change of attitudinal behaviour.

Manipur exceeds mental health illness record than national average as per national mental survey 2015. But state doesn’t have enough mental health institutes to address this health issues. Amidst this situation, Manipur has unfolded with the conflict that may aggravate the problem of mental health issue.

In an interaction with psychiatrist prof Dr RK Lenin Singh of Regional Institute of Manipur Sciences, RIMS, said that well-being of a person is not only defined by physical health but also by strong mental health. But unfortunately, mental health is one of the most neglected health issues in the country which is totally contrary to western countries. Developed country give priority to keeping mental health sound from one century back.

He continued and said that the stigma, discrimination are some of the main reasons for making mental health as a less talked about health issues. Fortunately, certain changes have been witnessing in the field of this health issue from past one decade or so, and India has started realising the significance of mental well-being.

Government of India had carried out a mental health survey in the year 2015. The survey came to notice that average national mental health issues stand at 10 percent of total population. But Manipur exceeds national average, and has 13 per cent of its total population suffering from different kinds of mental health problems, he added.

He said that health professional who are in the field of mental health care service have been putting an effort to promote well-being of mental health. COVID-19 pandemic that the globe witnessed also helped bring changes to people’s perspective towards mental health. When this health crisis unfolded, it seemed awareness on mental well-being also increased manifold.

During the COVID-19, people had gone through various challenges and even degraded the standard of life posed by job lost, lock down, close down of educational institutions etc. This traumatic shift gives severe impact to wellness of mental health. After much effort, society has come out from the clutches of this worst days and in state of Manipur as well, he added.

He continued that the state has taken place many developments in last couple of years that many youngsters have regained hope lost during COVID-19 pandemic. But sadly, the state is once again beleaguered by complicated phase with the unfolding of communal clashes from May 3 this year. The present crisis affecting every section of society is an undeniable fact and need concerted effort to abstain any post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, which may give long-term impact, he added.

Stating on impact of mental health by present crisis, he said, “thousands of people have been displaced by this ongoing crisis. When our team visited a relief camp, we came to notice that maximum victim of the crisis have endured mental instability. If proper care like counselling and psycho-social support are not given, the state may encounter PTSD in future. Such kind of mental disorder may give immense loss to society. As such there is a need for proper policy and programme to keep PTSD at bay.”

He said that all age groups staying in relief camp are undergoing one form or another form of mental health problems. As Meitei being one of the communities that has high resilient capacity, many displaced victims face their toughest phase of life boldly with hope that good days will surely return.

Children in tender age may not feel pain about displacement from their places but they develop sense of fear after the crisis. As per information shared by their parents, they are happy with their new friends who they have come to know in the relief camp. However, during the night time, they are usually afraid to go stay alone at night and used to cling to their parents. They often shouted while sleeping, or couldn’t get sound sleep, he added.
He also said that amongst the youngster, they develop a sense of revenge.

The crisis had affected their life, career and hope that transpired them to give up everything and encouraged them to become as village defender.

Out of anger or frustration, even some youth in relief camp have started using drugs or other intoxicants. Such change of attitudinal behaviour may give long term impact. The common problem that every displaced people endured is not getting sound sleep and frustration and anxiety.

“Usually chances of having post PTSD is very high in the disaster hit state or country. There is a need of specific policy and programme to encounter such impact in the state,” he said while informing that survey will be carry out about how this crisis has affected the state. The survey will help in framing policy and programme.

He said that state has limited manpower to fight mental health problem. The state has around 30 psychiatrists only which is a big task to deal the mental health problem of the state. To cope with the insufficiency of mental health care worker and make mental health treatment inclusive, Tele MANAS was launched last year to provide mental health care service in state. The toll-free number of this service is 144163 and anyone can dial between 9.30 AM to 5 PM. People should take the benefit of this service, he said.

He also appealed to people of the state to inculcate positive mindset and extend share and care to one another so that the society can face the present crisis boldly and leave no mental health issue unaddressed.

Edited By: Nandita Borah
Published On: Oct 10, 2023