Learning difficulties and slow learners form largest segment of patients
PANJIM: In Goa, a literate State where mental health allegedly stands neglected, over 10,000 children and adolescents are undergoing treatment for various mental ailments with ‘learning difficulty/disorder and slow learners’ topping the chart.
“It is surprising that there is more attention given to physical health, and mental health issues of children are neglected. People find it difficult to address this issue,” Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Dr Sushma Kirtani said in a draft report on the Mental Health Policy.
The Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour (IPHB) that provides assessment, intervention and inpatient services to children and adolescents, through its Child Guidance Clinic (CGC), handled 6280 cases from January 2016 to September 2017, whereas District Early Intervention Centre (DEIC), in North and South Goa district hospitals, treated over 4,000 children and adolescents during the same period.
The commonly found mental ailments reported in children and adolescence in these centers include attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, autism/ behaviour issues, learning difficulty /disorder, cognitive/intellectual disability, adolescent counseling, motor delay etc.
Of these, 2325 cases are of learning difficulty/disorder as per statistics from DEIC district hospitals, while CGC reports 660 cases of learning disability. CGC statistics further disclose that 947 children are slow learners.
The draft report states that at primary health centres, mental health services are only limited to detection and then referred to secondary or tertiary centres for assessment and interventions. School mental health is looked after by trained medical officers (currently Homoeopathic and Ayurvedic Doctors) posted in all PHCs on a contract basis.
through a Central government program and adolescent counseling is provided by another group of adolescent health counselors who are trained in mental health also through similar funding. Primary health care medical officers have also been trained in early detection of mental illnesses in children and adolescent age group.
At the secondary care or district level, the two District Hospitals, with two psychiatrists assess and intervene, with children referred to them through the PHC or CHC level. A special child and adolescent wing/ward has been planned at IPHB to augment services at its premises. In addition, IPHB will soon become a centre of excellence, the report mentions.