Journey from seclusion to inclusion: Development of mental health services in India since independence

Ghosh, Shilpi


Mental health is an integral and essential component of “Health”. It is more than the mere absence of mental disorders or disabilities. It determines the quality of life of the individuals. The progress and prosperity of a nation depend on the overall quality of health of its citizens. However, until early twentieth century the issues of mental health and well-being were inadequately addressed. Often people with psychological ailments were considered to be non-productive people, confined in asylums, received inhumane treatment and were completely secluded from the mainstream society. Since independence initiatives have been taken by individuals and by the central government and the state governments, to develop the mental health services in India. This paper reviewed published articles, book-chapters and books to explore the development of mental health services in India since Independence. It was observed that measures were taken to improve the conditions of the mental hospitals. A trend towards deinstitutionalization was set by the Government of India and that initiated the creation of general hospital psychiatric units and community mental health services. Humanistic approach in treatment, development of psychotropic drugs and psychotherapies facilitated the management and care of the patients with psychiatric diseases, thereby improving their quality of life.


Antipsychotic drugs; Community mental health services; General hospital psychiatric units; Mental hospitals; Psychotherapy

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