Srinagar: The 20-year turmoil in Kashmir has led to an increase in psychological problems among the populace as traditional mechanisms of mental care have deteriorated due to the conflict, an NGO report has claimed.

"Conflict situation in Kashmir led to increase in psychological problems...traditional mechanisms of care crumbled in various ways, mosques got closed for sheltering everyone including persons facing psychological problems (and) health care system faced paucity of manpower," a report released on Saturday by ActionAid International-India said.

A sense of insecurity, exposure to sufferings, abuses, instigation to and participation in violence, a choked atmosphere that blocks avenues of expression, humiliation and torture, were some of the reasons cited by the report for the increase.

Among other causes were death of those in proximity, rape, feeling for revenge, tragedies, the breaking down of family structures, all of which were consequences of conflict situations, it said.

The care that existed here in the form of mental institutions became inaccessible on account of "hazards involved in travel and stay in Srinagar."

"On top of it psychologically disordered persons became vulnerable targets in encounters," it alleged.

Also, the Mental Health Act of 1987 makes it obligatory for the state to create a mechanism for licensing and monitoring mental health care facilities, the report said.

"The state has created such authority but it remains non-functional as there are no recognised Mental Health Care facilities in private state sector...whatever exists is unlicensed as no license has ever been issued by the Authority," the report claimed.

The mental health facilities are expected to be monitored by the Mental Health Authority, but there is no such monitoring, it said.

The report also claimed that consultation facility was only available at the Government Psychiatric Hospital while no such facilities were available at primary or secondary health care institutions in the Kashmir Valley.

"There is a high incidence of psychiatric disorders among those who are in jails and other detention centers. The reason for high incidence of persons with psychological disorders in
jails can have two reasons -- either the ones getting involved in crimes suffer from psychological disorders, or these disorders overtake them once they are lodged in jails," it said.

The prime reason for non-adherence of mental health care standards is unfamiliarity of those who are in this job, it said.

"For this purpose, the study suggests creation of a mental health manual so that everyone involved in mental healthcare is familiar with his assignments and responsibilities," it said.

(Agencies)