Mentally Unwell India: 1 in 20 People have Depression

The shocking results from the 2016 National Mental Health Survey are out. In Karnataka, 7.3% teenage children (age group 13-17) are in need of mental health counselling.

Overall, 8% of people in Karnataka suffer from mental health problems!

A mentally unwell country?


The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

When you are mentally unwell, conditions such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks tend to manifest.

One in 20 people in India have been found to be experiencing a mental health problem that occurs commonly, such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse disorder, and depression. Most people were found to be suffering from depression.



 WP = Weighted Percentage

Source: 2016 National Mental Health Survey report

  • Women seemed particularly vulnerable to phobia, anxiety, and neurosis.
  • They were found to suffer from these conditions twice as much as men.

It will be interesting to research the reason behind this finding.

The young are hit the hardest

Young professionals appear to be a depressed bunch. The study found people in the age group of 30 years to 49 years to be more affected by mental health conditions.

This is the age at which most people’s careers are taking off and they are rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. Can they afford to let depression remain untreated?

People aged above 60 years were also found to be more likely to be depressed than others.

Income, education, and mental wellness

  • People with low income and little education as well as urban residents were found to suffer from mental health conditions more than others.

Perhaps this has something to do with having to meet one’s own expectations as well as that of others with respect to earning power.



WP= Weighted Percentage

Source: 2016 National Mental Health Survey

Suicidal tendencies



What is more alarming is that 0.9% of the population of India is at risk of committing suicide.

  • People aged between 40 years and 49 years have a high suicidal risk.
  • Females were more likely to commit suicide as compared to males.
  • People residing in urban metros had a greater prevalence of high suicidal risk.

Half of the population at risk for committing suicide were also found to be suffering from mental health disorders.

The consequences of suicide and the risk factors that are likely to compel a person to commit suicide are not well understood in India. There is a need for targeted research in this area.

What does it all mean? 


What conclusions can we draw from these findings? We can only guess. It will be good to know the reasons for depression because it might help reduce the incidence of these conditions.

  • A pertinent point mentioned by a senior professor at NIMHANS, Bengaluru is that drugs for depression are quite expensive.
  • Most depression solutions cost an average of INR 1,000 to INR 2,500. This is not affordable for a majority of patients.

The survey has found that three out of four people who have severe depression symptoms have an impaired work, social life and family life. Because of the stigma surrounding mental disorders, almost 80% patients do not seek treatment despite suffering for more than a year!

Mental health has a low priority in India among both medical professionals as well as government programs. This state of affairs needs to change if we want to lift such a heavy burden from the shoulders of our productive population.

Do you believe that you face anxiety, stress, or depression at home or at work? Talk to our counselors at AskMile for free!

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