Nearly 1.8 million adults (45 per cent of the adult population) in the Kashmir Valley show symptoms of significant mental distress, claims a survey conducted by MSF in year 2015. This is compounded by the stigma associated with mental illness. During year 1989, when the armed struggle in Kashmir started, nearly 17000 patients visited Kashmir’s only psychiatric hospital, this number toped in year 2015 by 100,000 patients visiting the same hospital. This certainly indicates a steep increase in numbers of patients who sought psychiatric services. Of course, this doesn't take into account factors such as affordability of treatment being a major issue, the high level of stigma around mental illness, and general awareness about mental health being low. Therefore, several instances of mental illness would have gone unreported.
It is important that the state of Jammu and Kashmir conceive a comprehensive community mental health programme comprising promotive, preventive and curative dimensions of treatment to address mental health issues of people, both immediate and long-term, in ways which will help promote mental well-being, reduce stigma, address physical health needs, create mass awareness, provide home-based counselling, facilitate psychiatric treatment from public hospitals, etc. Other aspects such as organising child clubs, building vocational skills and sustainable livelihoods, linking people with government entitlements and to create an environment where those who are affected by conflict can meet to share experiences to focus on starting life afresh, also need to be built in.
HELP Foundation in this regard has contributed in conducting school mental health awareness programmes, community based mental health camps, individual and group counselling to traumatised people, focussed intervention for victims of conflict like; victims of pellet guns, half widows, orphans and others. HELP continues to make people aware on mental health and related issues and runs a drug-deaddiction centre in the city as well.
Some more important assignments that HELP foundation undertook are listed under: