President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates 21st WFMH World Congress 2017

Updated: Jan 13, 2018, 18:05 IST | ANI | New Delhi

The 21st WFMH World Congress, organised by The World Federation of Mental Health, the largest global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts, and other institutions, was inaugurated by the President

The 21st WFMH World Congress, organised by The World Federation of Mental Health, the largest global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts, and other institutions, was inaugurated by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind at The Ashok, New Delhi today.

Ram Nath Kovind
Ram Nath Kovind

The conference is being held for the first time in the SAARC region from November 2-5. This global event with mental healthcare at centre-stage provides an opportunity for scientists, advocates, service providers, service users, and caregivers to get together to identify and discuss significant mental health issues, transfer information, and build networks and friendship.

President Kovind conveyed his delight on being given the opportunity to inaugurate the World Congress of Mental Health 2017. He also welcomed the 300 international delegates present at the conference representing 50 different countries along with other guests.

'It is a matter of pride for all of us that a conference of this scale and significance is being held in India for the first time. With 65% of the Indian population comprising people under the age of 35 years and the increasing incidence of mental health disorders among the young, India is staring at a possible mental healthcare epidemic. Some of the biggest challenges that hinder accessible mental healthcare in India include widespread stigma, denial and shortage of doctors,' the President said.

He stressed on the importance of striking a public-private partnership to eliminate these. He added that the government has already started a programme under which 22 centers across the country catering to mental health patients have been opened.

He concluded by highlighting the importance of telemedicine in bridging the gap between patients to doctors and congratulated the conference organizers for putting together a spectacular show.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harshvardhan, Minister of Science & Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Earth Sciences conveyed greetings from our visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi to all present at the conference.

He said that they have undertaken some programmes on mental health. Research is underway on a multimodal study on mental health disorders including schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder where deep clinical phenotyping along with imaging and genetics will be used. Patients with inherited mental health disorders are being studied so that adequate treatment procedures can be developed accordingly.

He added that the government is developing state-of-the-art centers for mental health and has also developed a software ' `KALPANA' which will predict mental health disorders through neuroimaging techniques. He concluded by stating that the Prime Minister envisions a new India by 2022 and medical professionals can play a great role in helping achieve this objective.

Prof. Gabriel Ivbijaro, MBE, President, World Federation for Mental Health, said, 'There are quite few reasons why this conference is being held in India this time. This is a country that has been able to bring the past and the future together. India has also developed many new ways of working using the rich resources that exist in our communities. There are many barriers to mental health around the world, the most important being lack of awareness and the social stigma associated with this condition. With the insights and recommendations from this conference, we hope to find a way forward in removing the taboo associated with mental health and make a positive difference in the lives of such people.'

The first day of the conference saw some key sessions such as School Mental Health Challenges for India, Lessons from the Combat Zone (addressing terrorism and mental health), Addressing the Global Crisis of Mental Health Stigma in the Clinic and Beyond, and Childhood Depression, among many others.

Scientific sessions and sessions including paper presentations were also held at the venue, covering some interesting and noteworthy topics. The event, in the days ahead, will witness caregivers share stories about challenges faced by them while taking care of those with mental health issues.

Prominent dignitaries such as Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate & Architect of Global March Against Child Labour; Prakash Jha, Multiple Award-winning Independent Filmmaker; Ileana D'Cruz, Renowned Actor and Mental Health Advocate; among others will share their experiences as well.

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