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.