To address the rising issues of mental health and social care, the Meghalaya cabinet approved a policy on 30 November through collaborative engagement with communities. The news has been confirmed by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.
The new policy will aim to promote overall mental health and wellbeing and also facilitate appropriate access and care facilities for common and severe mental-health concerns. More focus will be given to care centred around the individual. Additionally, the new policy will also seek to address the social causes of mental ill health, which will also ensure cultural security and the engagement and collaboration of the communities it is meant to benefit.
According to James PK Sangma, the health minister, the policy had its roots firmly in Meghalay’s culture and is aimed at eliminating the shame and humiliation that mental health issues tend to bring to the ones suffering. This community-centric policy will not only recognise the issue but normalise its discussion and acceptance, which will eventually make it easier to create awareness and build support systems.
Meghalaya is now counted amongst one of the three states that have created policies around mental health issues. In 2014, when the Centre had launched the National Mental Health Policy, Meghalay had also committed to rolling out a policy on World Mental Health Day.
The implementation of the policy will require the collaboration of various agencies, community institutions and human resources, as well as financial backing and infrastructure.