New Delhi: As Kerala grapples with another spell of incessant rainfall followed by severe floods, very little attention has been given to the mental rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.
A study conducted by the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health in January 2019 highlights that among the people who were affected by last year’s floods, 48% showed symptoms of depression.
Of them, 28.10 % were mildly depressed, 12.74% were moderately depressed, 5.56% were detected with moderately severe depression, and 1.63% had severe depression. The study further notes that ‘maximum prevalence of depression was observed in the geriatric age group’.
The study was conducted across Idukki district in Kerala and was supported by volunteer groups. However, there was no representation from government agencies, said Dr Jose Jom Thomas who led the research.
News18 tried to get in touch with Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and Health Secretary Rajan N. Khobragade but did not get any response.
A total of 306 people participated, out of which 135 (44.1%) were males and 171 (55.9%) were females.
The study also notes that a year after the 1999 Odisha floods, the prevalence of mental illness in the state was estimated at 52.7 per cent whereas people affected in Kanyakumari after the 2004 tsunami was reported at 43 per cent.
Apart from depression, there have also been cases of people falling prey to psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and anxiety disorders.
The population over 65 years of age is known as the geriatric population.
These are the people who have seen the worst of deluge in the last five years in Kerala.
From being displaced to people falling victims to vector-borne diseases, people in this age group are highly susceptible to becoming an emotional wreck.
This, compounded by the fact that people in this age group are naturally prone to falling victims of mental illness. Majority of the people in this age group live along coastal lines thus making agriculture their only source of income.
The study goes on to note that in excess of 57,000 hectares of agricultural crops were destroyed and ‘according to the state government an approximate estimate of the loss was more than the annual outlay of the state.’
Data also suggests that people in the Coorg district of Karnataka are also reeling with the same problem.
The one thing that the study makes very clear is that there is a pressing need for conducting population-based studies by the government and formulate evidence-based early interventions.