Mental Health & Wellbeing

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of mental health is an integral part of health and well-being. It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Determinants of mental health and mental health status include not only personal characteristics such as the ability to control thoughts, feelings, behavior and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as public policies, social protection, living standards, working conditions and community support. Exposure to adversity in youth is a known preventable risk factor for mental disorders.

Mental and substance use disorders, suicide and neurological disorders such as dementia affect more than 1 billion people each year and account for a third of the global issue of disability and 14% of global deaths. There is a growing worldwide awareness of the importance of mental health and the significant global concern of mental health conditions in both developing and developed countries. More than 80 percent of people with mental illness, including those with neurological and substance use disorders, do not have access to high-quality, affordable mental health care. According to the World Health Organization, about 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental and neurological disorders. Mental disorders account for 13% of the world population and are expected to rise to nearly 15% by 2030. By 2030, depression alone could become the largest contributor to the universal concern in terms of people being affected by diseases, currently affecting 400 million people and the majority of years of life with disability worldwide. Mental disorders are associated with high mortality rates, such as suicide or comorbidities; In 2010, people with mental disorders were responsible for approximately 13 million deaths. There are strong links between mental disorders and other global health priorities, such as maternal depression and child malnutrition and cognitive development.

Mental health conditions cause ill health, premature death, human rights violations and global and nominal economic losses. It is imperative to act so that communities and individuals can achieve the highest standards of health that can only be achieved when their mental health and well-being are protected and their rights are respected. More than 75% of people with mental illness from low- and middle-income countries do not receive any treatment. According to the National Mental Health Survey of Bangladesh supported by the World Health Organization, 18.7% of adults and 12.6% of children in the country suffer from mental disorders.

Common mental disorders include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and somatic symptom disorder. Major mental disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and others.

Bangladesh passed a new Mental Health Act in 2018, replacing the outdated 105-year-old Mental Illness Act of 1912. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare approved a new mental health policy and strategic plan in 2022, reflecting a shift from a medical to a psychosocial care model, focusing on decentralized and community-based services and support for people with mental illness. The mental health investment case is a work in progress. The Technical Committee was established under the Special Initiative on Mental Health, Shuchona Foundation being one of the committee members.

Here are some of the facts around the current scenario of Mental Health in Bangladesh :

Policy, Program and Acts:

  • Mental Health Act, Bangladesh 2018

  • National Strategic Plan for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2016 — 2030

  • Protection of Persons with Neuro—developmental Disability Trust Act, 2013

  • Special Initiative for Mental Health, Bangladesh

  • Mental Health Policy, Bangladesh (2022)

  • National Mental Health Strategy Plan, Bangladesh (2022)

Resources for Mental Health:

  • Psychiatrists: 300

  • Psychologists: 565

  • Trained Psychiatric Nurses: 700

  • Psychiatric Social Workers: 3

  • Other professionals: Occupational Therapists (337), Speech & Language Therapists (160)

  • Specialized Hospital for Mental health: 2

  • Pabna Mental Hospital: 500 beds

  • National Institute of Mental Health: 200 beds (400 beds approved)