Policy Group is inviting suggestions from stakeholders

Copied below is the text of an email sent to various stakeholders by the Policy Group.Even if you have not received this email, please write back to the Policy Group with your feedback and suggestions for the Policy and Plan.

Dear Friends,

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has constituted a Policy Group to frame a National Mental Health Policy and Plan. Your attention is also called to the dedicated website, www.mhpolicy.org, which gives more details and provides some links to a range of published and unpublished materials relevant to the subject. . The Policy Group can also be contacted on a dedicated email (mentalhealthpolicy@gmail.com)

A National Mental Health Policy and Plan is being drafted for the first time and the Policy Group which met on 3rd May 2011 has agreed that action towards framing a policy statement which is relevant to India’s needs must commence with reaching out to and consulting with as many stakeholders from the entire spectrum. This necessarily includes persons with mental illness, family & non family care-givers, health professionals, professional bodies, activists, non-governmental organizations and those working on health systems, community health and development to name just a few. Knowing of your involvement in this area we seek your opinions and suggestions.

A mental health policy for India ought to address both immediate and anticipated future concerns. Government is aware that there is a need for better implementation of existing programmes; the Policy Group is accordingly addressing the issue of restructuring the National and District Mental Health Programmes. Policy will also have to address the causes of mental illness as well as the steps to be taken to promote mental health. Issues of poverty and social exclusion are as important as issues of treatment and care. A policy must also recognize the rights of all stakeholders, the role of the community and the range of treatments and facilities for care. Policy must pay particular attention to the mental health needs of women and children. Policy must also address the requirement of training of health professionals of all types as also the need for mental health research.

The Policy Group is aware that this exercise of sending an email inviting suggestions runs the risk of involving only those with access to email or to the English language. This is not representative of the concerns and wishes of the broader stakeholder community in this country and we request you to share this email and its contents with as many interested persons as possible.

We also trust it will be possible for you to translate the contents of this mail for the benefit of persons known to you. The Policy Group will be happy to receive inputs in any language.

We would also be grateful for suggestions on how better we could engage with other stakeholder interests

The Policy Group will broadly use the WHO definitions of Policy, Plan and Programme when drafting the National Mental Health Policy and Plan. These are given below at the end of this email.

The Policy Group accordingly requests :

a) Your suggestions regarding important issues and priorities for inclusion in the Policy and Plan

b) Information including data, reports, etc. (both published as well as unpublished) regarding mental health problems and mental health services in the country. In particular, information on innovative service delivery programmes from different parts of the country.

c) Inputs on the following issues

i) District Mental Health Programme and suggestions for restructuring the programme to make it more effective

ii) Models of community care of persons living with mental illness

iii) Norms and Standards for different types of health services relevant to mental illness

iv) improving access to all types of care, therapy and health services relevant to mental illness

iv) Promotion of mental health in all its aspects

The Policy Group will be obliged if you can send the above information/suggestions by writing to us at mentalhealthpolicy@gmail.com to reach us by 15th June 2011.

Thanking you

on behalf of the Policy Group

for National Mental Health Policy and Plan

WHO Definitions of Policy, Plan and Programmes

Mental health policy is an organized set of values, principles and objectives for improving mental health and reducing the burden of mental disorders in a population. It defines a vision for the future and helps to establish a model for action.

Mental health plan: A detailed pre-formulated scheme for implementing strategic actions that favour the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental disorders, and treatment and rehabilitation. Such a plan allows the implementation of the vision, values, principles, and objectives defined in the policy. A plan usually includes strategies, time frames, resources required, targets to be achieved, indicators and activities.

Mental health programme: An intervention or series of interventions with a highly focused objective for the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental disorders, and treatment and rehabilitation. A programme usually focuses on a specific mental health priority

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