MUMBAI: Three of the state’s regional mental hospitals in Thane, Pune and Nagpur will be developed into Centres of Excellence (COE) as part of a multi-crore project to transform them into training institutes. Three years after being conceptualised, the state issued a GR last week allowing seats to be created for courses in psychiatry, clinical psychology, psychiatric nursing within these hospitals to meet the urgent need for mental health professionals in Maharashtra.
This is, perhaps, the first time the public health department has forayed into medical education to meet the shortage of mental health caregivers. “In all, 76 seats have been sanctioned across these hospitals to create a pool of trained personnel who can serve in state-run mental hospitals,” said Dr Anup Kumar Yadav, commissioner, National Health Mission. He added the state has also tied up with Bengaluru-based Nimhans, the country’s premier institution for mental health and neuroscience, to train medical officers.
At least nine districts in Maharashtra don’t have a single psychiatrist, while most in interior areas have one or two for entire districts. The situation is dire at the four state-run mental health institutions too (see box).
Dr Sadhana Tayade, joint director at the Directorate of Health Services, said four seats of MD psychiatry have been created at the mental institutions in Thane and Nagpur, while 16 seats of M Phil in clinical psychology were created at Thane and Pune hospitals. Around 16 seats of M Phil in psychiatric social work have been sanctioned in Pune and Nagpur. Another 40 seats were created for diploma in psychiatric nursing at Thane and Pune mental hospitals. “Maharashtra has over 1,200 registered psychiatrists, but not many are willing to work in government hospitals,” she said, adding the move to create seats within these hospitals will mean that there are doctors available at all points.
A total Rs 5.75crore has been earmarked for the transformation of these hospitals, 60% of which will come from the centre. The GR stated the centre has released the first instalment (Rs 2.25crore). “NIMHANS will train medical officers at primary health centres and health and wellness centres. The three-month online course will be imparted in batches of 100,” said Dr Tayade.
“Mental hospitals are a goldmine for research and studies. It’s a good step to start the courses in collaboration with nearby medical colleges and the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences,” said psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Kumawat, who is a part of the state’s reforms committee for mental hospitals. The courses are likely to start by next academic year. – TOI