Key Takeaways from International Conference on Public Mental Health and Neurosciences 2016

Conference by Sarvasumana Association , 14th &15th Dec 2016

In India the magnitude of mental illness whilst substantial, is often neglected due to social taboos. We need to address the mental and physical well-being as a population health issue. This can be done though a thrust on Neurosciences — a growing field of research and a cross-disciplinary science. We need to further enhance effective collaboration between — academics and practitioners — in the fields of Neurosciences, Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology.

Key take home messages:

1. Anxiety disorder — Multi-disciplinary approach required

Anxiety disorder, with a prevalence of 15–20% in the Indian population, is the most common mental disorder in the country. The etiology, prognosis, and psycho-social dysfunction caused by the disorder are determined largely by the socio-cultural backgrounds of individuals.

The spectrum of anxiety disorders makes it difficult to diagnose one specific syndrome. The prevalence calls for comprehensive psycho-social and pharmacological interventions with a multidisciplinary focus to facilitate recovery.

A clinical practitioner can schedule counseling sessions with patients to help them cope with anxiety in undergoing extensive treatments and surgeries, with or without pharmacological management.

2. Psychological First Aid (PFA)

As a physician, psychological support and sensitivity is of utmost importance in communication with a patient as the psychological footprint greatly exceeds the medical footprint. This helps in expanding a clinician’s perspective to include physical and emotional first aid in dealing with the patient and the family in cases of emergency, terminal illness etc. Psychological First Aid (PFA) consists of a systematic set of helping actions aimed at reducing initial post-trauma distress and supporting short- and long-term adaptive functioning with regard to the major public health challenge.

PFA is constructed around eight core actions:

· Contact and engagement,

· Safety and comfort,

· Stabilization,

· Information gathering,

· Practical assistance,

· Connection with social supports,

· Information on coping support, and

· Linkage with collaborative services

3. Health in Handwriting: Graphotherapy

Graphotherapy has provided promising responses in children with autistic challenges, ADS, ADHD, stammering. It works well with all the psychosomatic diseases. It also helps to come out of any kind of addictions, phobias, trauma, blocks, fears and guilt. This therapy does wonders in identifying & curbing the suicide tendency.

A clinician can involve a graphotherapist, in cases of need for behavioral changes in children, as a part of the treatment to enable and enhance motor skills necessary for behaviour modification.

4. Diabetes and Memory impairment

The observed effects of duration of diabetes on memory status are of potential clinical importance because even mild cognitive impairment could interfere with day to day activities. The decreased memory status in diabetic patients may be due to many factors like hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, vascular disease, insulin resistance, amyloid deposition. Further some of the factors combine to produce additive effects like the type of diabetes, co-morbidities, the age of onset, duration of the disease and type of therapy.

In clinical practice, prevention and early detection of neuropathies is essential in helping a diabetic maintain good quality of life. Tests at regular intervals can be done in office to help access the cognitive function and motivate patients to be a part of or involve themselves in daily activities which could help reduce cognitive decline.

5. Melioidosis as a Differential diagnosis to Tuberculosis

Various case reports of a cavitary lesion mimicking tuberculosis emphasize the need to keep Melioidosis (Whitmore’s disease) caused by gram-negative bacterium B.pseudomallei as one of the differential diagnosis of a consolidation or a cavitary lesion especially in the south Indian population and patient who have decreased immunity and are at risk. Better awareness, both among clinicians and microbiologists, along with improved diagnostic methods for early diagnosis and hence early treatment will significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.