India and UK strengthen mental health collaboration

Public Health England (PHE) and India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) exchange MOU, aim to establish India’s first Public Health Observatory (PHO) along with other partners

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The Memorandum of Understanding was exchanged by Professor Gangadhar with PHE’s Director of Health Intelligence Professor Peter Bradley (see photo). Also present were dignitaries including Professor S.S. Vasan of PHE (right) and Professor G. Gururaj of NIMHANS (left) who are the national focal points of this collaboration.

New Delhi: Public Health England (PHE), the executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, has exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding with India’s apex National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).

The two institutions aim to strengthen collaboration in mental health and public health, starting with a pilot to establish India’s first Public Health Observatory (PHO). PHE has integrated all the PHOs in England into an integrated knowledge and intelligence network.

India is losing a student an hour to suicide due to mental distress; one in four adults and one in ten children in the UK experience mental illness.

NIMHANS hosted the 2nd India-UK roundtable on establishing India’s first PHO on August 2 and 3 in which 50 experts from PHE, NIMHANS and key institutions across India such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Puducherry and National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai.

Besides Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, British Deputy High Commission, Indian Institute of Science, Institute of Public Health, International Institute of Information Technology, Kolar District Health Office, MS Ramaiah Medical College, and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research participated, according to the United News of India.

In a press release from NIMHANS, its Director Professor BN Gangadhar has said: “Mental health is a major issue common to both the UK and India. The WHO estimates that 56 million Indians suffer from depression and 38 million from anxiety disorders; it is shameful that we are losing a student an hour to suicide due to mental distress. In the UK, one in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental illness; but significant progress has been made towards ‘parity of esteem’ which values mental health equally with physical health.”

“The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has notified the Mental Healthcare Act on 29 May 2018, and our country is at the crossroads of a major transformation that can benefit from strong PHO networks for physical as well as mental health. The planning for the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ programme presents another opportunity to create community-level interventions powered by Big Data and intelligence to help implement the Act”, he added.

The Memorandum of Understanding was exchanged by Professor Gangadhar with PHE’s Director of Health Intelligence Professor Peter Bradley. Also present were dignitaries including Professor S.S. Vasan of PHE and Professor G. Gururaj of NIMHANS who are the national focal points of this collaboration. Professor Gururaj was also facilitated in the event for winning the Dr Raja Ramanna Award for contribution to public health.

What is a PHO?
The job of a PHO is to give frontline health and social care organisations, as well as government policymakers, the information and evidence they need to make the best decisions about improving people’s health and reducing health inequalities.