It has been around 25 years that Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH) has been operating, but it still does not have a ward for mental health patients.
There was a provision for a 10-bed mental healthcare ward when KMCH was established in 1992, but the hospital authorities failed to implement it, citing a lack of manpower.
Dr SM Fariduzzaman, assistant professor of the hospital's Psychiatry Department, said the hospital treats to 60-70 mental health patients in the Outdoor Section every day, but the hospital staff are awfully inadequate to open the mental health ward.
“Due to various family issues and social instability, the number of mental health patients is on the rise. Women are more prone to such mental trauma,” he noted.
According to the National Mental Health Institute, 16% of the country's population aged above 18 are suffering from various mental illnesses. For the population aged between five and 18, the statistic is 18%.
Dr Dhiraj Mohon Biswas, former vice-principal of KMCH and a mental health expert, noted that only four psychiatrists are working with KMCH, which is a very insignificant number compared to the high percentage of mental health disorders in our society.
KMCH Principal Prof Dr Abdul Ahad said mental health is very much neglected in our society. “In the developed world, mental health and physical well-being are considered to be of equal importance. But in our country a mental health patient is looked down upon. Families try to hide it. Every one needs to be more aware of the problem.”