Careers related to mental health

[Ranjan K Baruah]

We do not talk much about mental health in our day to day life. When we see someone’s health deteriorating, like sudden weight loss or other physical changes then is when we talk about our health and consult doctors. On the other hand, it is very difficult to know about our mental health. Our mental health may be healthy or it might not be healthy. It is important for us to know about mental health and there are many career options related to it.
Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”.
From the perspective of positive psychology or holism, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
According to the World Health Organisation, ‘mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy approximately US$ 1trillion each year in lost productivity.
According to the National Mental Health Survey (2016), 1 in 20 people suffer from depression in India. According to the National Mental Health Survey (2016), 10 percent of the Indian population suffers from common mental disorders.
Data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows that the country needs 11,500 psychiatrists, while India only has 3,500 psychiatrists. India’s entire mental health workforce, comprising clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers and psychiatric nurses, stands at 7,000, while the actual requirement is 54,750.
The WHO estimated that, in India, the economic loss due to mental health conditions, between2012-2030, is 1.03 trillions of 2010 dollars. The mental health workforce in India (per 100,000 populations) includes psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07).
There are endless opportunities from career perspectives as trained individuals are less in this area but one must have patience to be successful in this field. Looking at the needs in India one may choose to get engaged in psychiatrist, psychologist, nursing, social work, etc. Apart from these, there might be some other avenues, like counsellors, dietician, occupational therapist, peer support worker, etc.
AICTE Scholarship: AICTE has announced two scholarships, namely Pragati Scholarship Scheme for Girl Students and Saksham Scholarship for differently-able students. Details of the scheme are available on the AICTE website, and last date for submission of application is November 20, 2017.
(Ranjan K Baruah is a career mentor and can be reached at for any career related queries)