Shillong ( Meghalaya), Nov 29 : The Meghalaya Cabinet on today passed its first ever Mental Health & Social Care Policy.
With this, Meghalaya has become the first state in the Northeast and the third state in India to have such a policy. The vision of the Meghalaya Mental Health and Social Care Policy is to promote overall mental health and well-being and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways. The two main pillars of the mental health and social care policy are inter departmental convergence and robust engagement with communities.
Taking to Twitter, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma stated that this policy will ensure proper attention to mental health, especially for children, adolescents and youth. He added, “We strongly feel that Mental Health issues are often neglected and hence a comprehensive policy was required to address the issue. This policy will ensure that proper attention is given to mental health, particularly for our youth and adolescents”.
The policy is part of a sensitive public health approach adopted by the State for providing mental, psychological and social care for the residents. As part of the Meghalaya State Health Policy launched in May 2021, a holistic lifecycle approach is being adopted for encouraging preventive and promotive healthcare, along with upholding the curative and enabling dimensions. As part of the lifecycle approach of the State Health Policy, the Meghalaya Mental Health and Social Care Policy has been initiated.
State Health Minister James P.K Sangma also took to twitter to announce this development and stated, “The policy is culturally rooted in the state and looks to address the stigma linked with mental health. The policy is also community-centric and will improve recognition, rehabilitation and reformation, necessary for creating awareness and building support systems”.
With the pandemic highlighting the need to devise an inclusive and robust institutional response, especially for vulnerable groups, this is an effort by the State Government towards improving the psychological and overall social well-being of the people through this policy.
It may be recalled that on World Mental Health Day on Oct 10, 2022, the Government of Meghalaya announced its first-ever draft ‘State Mental Health and Social Care Policy’ with an aim to promote overall mental health and well-being and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways for common and severe mental health concerns. Following its announcement on October 10, the draft policy was put up in the public domain to get feedback from the civil society members. These feedbacks were then incorporated into the draft policy and reviewed before finalizing the same.
Meghalaya’s Mental Health & Social Care Policy is a result of iterations with several stakeholders, a process which forms an important part of the ongoing Meghalaya’s State Capability Enhancement framework. This process involved all concerned departments and agencies as part of a collaborative proposition towards problem identification and solving in the context of mental health.
The Meghalaya Mental Health and Social Care Policy takes into consideration the social determinants of mental ill-health and cultural security which will be facilitated through collaborative engagement with communities to promote equitable mental health and social care for all. The policy will be implemented through convergence across departments and policies while strengthening human resources and community institutions including financial support and infrastructure.
It may be mentioned that as part of attaining the greater vision of the State Health Policy, several steps are being taken by the State such as the launch of Chief Minister’s Safe Motherhood Scheme (CM-SMS) for saving the lives of mothers and infants, launch of Early Childhood Development Mission as well as the initiation of Village Health Councils (VHCs) for bringing about a positive change in the health seeking behavior of people, among other interventions.
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