By Sharanya Gopinathan
The Health Minister of Kerala, K.K. Shylaja, just inaugurated two depression clinics in the state, named Sarathy and Prashanti. The Hindu reports that the clinics are intended to deal with depression in women and children.
The focus of these two clinics seems to be women in particular. Reportage around them focuses on how the clinics will tackle antenatal and postnatal depression, and depression during menopause. The Prashanti clinic will operate out of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department at SAT Hospital in the Government Medical College, while Sarathy will run from community health centres run by the Government Medical College hospital. It’s wonderful that a government is taking depression, particularly in women, so seriously, and that it’s making active headway in tackling an issue that’s both urgent and badly misunderstood.
While opening the two existing clinics, K.K. Shylaja also said that depression clinics would soon be opened at 170 primary health centres across the state, and The Hindu reports that all government hospitals in Kerala will soon have depression clinics.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked poetically about depression in his Mann ki Baat radio program, saying rhyming things like “Suppression of depression is not good. Expression is always good.” He also encouraged people to talk about depression, and said that in India we’re lucky to have joint families because that means someone will notice your depression. While talking about depression is of course important, the Kerala government’s move to open clinics focused on tackling depression feels like a useful and path-breaking move. The Mental Healthcare Bill (2017) directs states to open mental healthcare programs and grants all people access to treatment from healthcare institutions that are run or funded by the government, but this is the first concrete step we’ve seen in that vein.
On an aside, there was just one issue on The Hindu‘s reportage on the Kerala clinics. The last line of this report on the two clinics being inaugurated reads thus: “It is important to treat depression in women since it affects the next generation too.” Heyo, sorry, actually it is important to treat depression in women since it affects women themselves. Our concern for women shouldn’t be based on their links to other people or other generations, but on our care and value for women as beings themselves.
April 22, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Great piece of writing, Sharanya. Yes waxing poetic about depression which incidentally is often due to oppression and suppression, is one thing, and acting on it at the ground level is quite another. And the other thing, that women matter as who THEY are rather than as who they are bringing forth into the world… very well tuned up. Lovely read.
April 23, 2017 at 11:32 am
Such a wonderful initiative by the Kerala govt. And an excellent write-up. 🙂
April 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm
This is key, thank you!
“Heyo, sorry, actually it is important to treat depression in women since it affects women themselves. Our concern for women shouldn’t be based on their links to other people or other generations, but on our care and value for women as beings themselves.”
April 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm
Cheers ladies. May things improve for you all in general