Thaawarchand Gehlot Virtually Inaugurates International Conference on “Mental Health: Looking Beyond COVID 19”

New Delhi: Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot inaugurated the virtual “International conference on Mental Health: Looking Beyond COVID 19” through video conferencing here today. Prof. Craig Jeffrey, Director, Australia-India Institute co-chaired the conference.

Delivering inaugural address, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot drew the attention of rising trend of mental health concerns across the globe. He also apprised about the recent initiatives of the Govt of India such as setting up of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation at Sehore, Madhya Pradesh & KIRAN mental health rehabilitation helpline for addressing mental health issues.

Secretary, DEPwD Smt Shakuntala D. Gamlin while giving a broad overview of the conference drew the attention towards the need of focused attention for addressing the increasing incidence of mental health issues. She stated that COVID 19 pandemic has had a major impact on psycho social wellbeing and is likely to add the disease burden across the globe. DrPrabodh Seth, Joint Secretary, DEPwD moderated the conference and also highlighted the role of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation in promoting mental health in the country.

The conference had five technical sessions wherein experts from India and Australia touched upon issues such as stress management for frontline non-health workers; multicultural mental health; maintaining mental health: working from home; suicide and associated media reporting in India; Mental Health and Human Rights in India and Australia; tools to building Mental Health Resilience in people with disability, approach embodied in new education policy for child development and education, etc.

Shri Barry O’Farrell, High Commissioner of Australia gave a broad overview of the mental health situation in Australia. He stressed the need for taking up joint initiatives by both the Governments through their respective institutes to promote research in rehabilitation sector including mainstreaming of persons with mental illness.

Other noted speakers of the conference include Shri V.K. Duggal, former Home Secretary and ex-Governor of Manipur and Mizoram, Smt Anita Karwal, Secretary, Department of Education, Govt of India, Prof. Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice Chancellor International, University of Melbourne, MrVasan Srinivasan, Chairman, Mental Health Foundation, Australia, Shri Jaideep Govind, ex-Secretary General, NHRC, India, Shri V. Srinivas, Additional Secretary, DARPG, Govt of India, Dr Greg Armstrong, University of Melbourne, Dr Rajesh Sagar, Prof. AIIMS, DrNimesh Desai, Director, IHBAS, Dr (Prof) Pratima Murthy, Head, Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS,Shri S.K. Rungta, Advocate, Supreme Court, Dr K. Mathias, University of Melbourne, DrHimangshu Das, Director, NIEPVD, Dehradun and Associate Prof. Nathan Grills, University of Melbourne.

The Conference was organized by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), M/o Social Justice & Empowerment in association with University of Melbourne, Australia as a part of joint initiative under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Australia and Government of India for cooperation in the disability sector in November, 2018.