Maharashtra announces psychological health plan to tackle farmer suicides

For representational purpose only. Photo

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Mumbai: In order to fight the epidemic of farmer suicides, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced a socio-psychological plan to provide psychological assistance and counseling that may go a long way in preventing farmers from committing suicide.

For representational purpose only. Photo
For representational purpose only. Photo

Maharashtra had been a bed of farmer suicides for last 15 years especially in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Vidarbha has seen a rise in the farmer suicides in the last few months. In 2014, a total of 721 farmers committed suicide. But, in 2015, within the first six months, at least 446 farmers have committed suicide.

A Times of India report has quoted the State health minister Dr Deepak Sawant as saying: “We carried out an audit of the suicides committed in the first six months of 2015 and found that there is a small window period in which most farmers who killed themselves were in an indecisive phase on whether to take the step or not. We want to identify this phase in a farmer’s life and intervene effectively.”

The health plan aims to achieve its objective by hiring more psychiatrists and psychologists in the suicide-prone zones, training community health workers, and hiring counselors on a contract basis, as per the TOI report.

The community health workers including Anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHAs) will conduct a screening test using questioners to assess and analyze the mental health of the farmers.

For the past few months, the government is running a pilot project in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts and the program is scheduled to be implemented in 12 other districts by October.

The government resolution (GR) states that it would undertake an expansion of psychiatry and psychology departments in the nine district hospitals and five sub-district hospitals.

The overall expenses, as per the estimation of GR, is expected to be around Rs 23.82 crore.