India’s Mental Health Crisis
By Neha Shastry
India is currently suffering a mental health crisis. With only 43 government-run mental hospitals serving a population of 1.2 billion, resources are spread thin. What’s more, mental illness is highly stigmatized in India, especially among women, who are typically committed to mental health facilities with no legal rights, receiving involuntary treatment, and sometimes without a proper diagnosis.
This issue was brought to my attention after speaking with several researchers at Human Rights Watch in India, who were doing extensive field work and research into the issue. They traveled across the country and published a report about conditions for women in mental institutions in the big cities, and the treatment gap in rural areas.
My producer Iris Xu and I decided that it was important to cover this story – but not to focus on just one aspect of how women are being marginalized when it comes to mental health care. So we decided to travel across the state of Maharashtra, and visit an infamous institution in Mumbai, one of India’s largest metropolitan cities, and then travel a few hours outside the city to see how the treatment compared.
What we found was way different than we could have ever imagined.