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AI can be an effective tool to curb mental health burden in India: Dr Purohit

Our Community Healthcare expert *Dr. Naresh Purohit, prompts students of IIT Indore for application of AI in Mental Health issues

Indore/New Delhi: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be an effective tool to curb the rising burden of mental health issues in India, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor- National Mental Health Programme.AI3

Speaking to reporters here after addressing a seminar on ‘Al in Mental Health’ organised by the Indore based Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-I), Member- of the Association of Studies For Mental Care Dr Purohit said that AI may not only boost cost-effective care but also reach the masses, as niche experts are fewer in this sector.

“The prevalence of mental illnesses and mental health concerns are very high. But the number of experts in the domain is very low. And these experts are also disproportionately distributed,” he said.
He pointed that the number of experts dwindles, beyond metro cities, in Tier – III, and IV, and even further while moving towards district, and rural levels.
According to the recent data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, about 60 to 70 million people in India have been reported to suffer from common and severe mental disorders.,.

“India’s mental health burden is estimated at $2-3 billion with about one in every eight people estimated to be suffering from a mental health disorder in some form. Hence, mental wellness solutions are pertinent, especially in a society like India where mental health is deeply stigmatised leading to lack of awareness,” he revealed

” AI interventions are the way forward for a country like ours, as well as for a large part of the developing world where we need to ensure that cost-effective and highest outreach is needed for mental health care, given the fact that experts are less,” he added.

AI“AI is not substituting clinical expertise, rather it is supporting,” he averred.

He stated that AI can help in screening and help understand whether a person must see a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

“There are some people who will have distress, some will require a bit of assistance and help, but not expert intervention in terms of therapy. This help could be about self-correction, basic guidance, some self-help, some do-it-yourself, some educator videos or content, but given by reliable sources, which also come from a clinically evidence-based background.”he said

He explained that AI can listen, give some education, help people understand what to do, provide lifestyle-related support, thought-related support which means helping with positive thinking affirmations, among others.

“At the same time, it can also screen the patients and rule out the presence of a condition that requires an expert intervention.”he added.

He said that AI can help in psychological therapy, guidance and it can also help in the continuity of treatment and compliance as well as overall relapse management.


*Dr. Naresh Purohit-MD, DNB, DIH, MHA, MRCP(UK), is an Epidemiologist, Dr. Naresh Purohit Advisor-National Communicable Disease Control Program of Govt. of India, Madhya Pradesh and several state organizations.)

Dr.  Purohit is also Principal Investigator for the Association of Studies For Kidney Care.

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