Assam Health & Family Welfare Minister Keshab Mahanta on Friday said that the number of patients with mental health problems has increased over the years, with more such cases coming to the fore since the onset of COVID.
Responding to an unstarred question by BJP legislator Mrinal Saikia, Mahanta said in the assembly that 927 suicide cases were reported from April 2021 to March 2022.
Kamrup district accounted for the highest number with 119 cases, followed by Barpeta (68) and Baksa (59), the minister said.
Between April and November this year, 721 cases of suicide have been reported, with Kamrup again recording the highest such instances (68).
“Since the COVID pandemic, many patients with mental health problems have sought expert help,” the minister added.
New OPD (outpatient department) and IPD (in-patient department) numbers under the National Mental Health Programme in 2020-21 were 17,832 and 3,807, respectively, which increased to 29,557 and 3,873 in 2021-22, Mahanta said.
From April to November 2022, new OPD registrations stood at 30,733, while the figure for IPD was 3,029.
The minister further stated that tele-counselling was also being provided to such patients through a helpline number, which received 11,139 calls from January 2020 to March 2022, and 3,550 calls between April and November 2022.
Males and those in the age bracket of 20-30 years formed the largest group of callers in terms of gender and age break-up.
Another tele-counselling service, ‘Tele MANAS’, has also been launched in the state from November 1 this year, he said.
A ‘Suicide Prevention Initiative’ has also been undertaken to understand the reasons behind suicide cases. It was rolled out in 10 districts in the first phase, Mahanta added.