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On the occasion of World Mental Health Day on October 10, the Meghalaya government announced the state’s “first-ever draft state mental health and social care policy”.

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The policy aims to promote overall mental health and well-being and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways for common and severe mental health concerns.

State health and family welfare minister, James Sangma, while formally announced the draft policy and said that universal access to mental healthcare is an important goal of the state government and added that the state has achieved a major milestone in the health sector through the announcement of this draft policy.

He also informed that Meghalaya is the first state in the Northeast of India to come out with its own mental health policy.

“The issue of mental health has remained a taboo subject and continues to be widely neglected due to the stigma associated with it. And in the past three years, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health gradually emerged as a silent pandemic that lurked upon each one of us and manifested itself in various forms. This led to an urgency for having a dedicated policy to address the issues pertaining to mental health,” Sangma said.

While highlighting the salient features of the State Mental Health and Social Care Policy, the health minister urged the members of the civil society to give their feedback and recommendations on the draft policy.

The minister further informed that the core committee and subcommittee were formed in order to guide the process of drafting the State Mental Health Policy to make it well-suited to tackle the issues that exist within the state.

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“We partnered with several stakeholders and under the state capability enhancement framework, through a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptive (PDIA) Approach, we involved all the concerned departments and agencies as part of our collaborative proposition towards problem identification and solving,’’ Sangma said.

Principal secretary, health and family welfare department, P Sampath Kumar, said that the policy is a holistic approach that aims to not only provide care but also address the socio-economic determinants affecting the mental health space and prevent challenges pertaining to mental health within the state.

The draft policy is being made available to the general public for their information and can be accessed at https://meghealth.gov.in/documents.html for a period of 15 days.

The draft policy has been put up in the public domain for the information of all, and also to find key missing elements, if any, within the policy document.

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