SHILLONG: Meghalaya cabinet, on Tuesday (November 29) passed its first ever mental health & social care policy.  

With this, Meghalaya has become the first state in the Northeast and the third state in India to have such a policy.  

The vision of the Meghalaya mental health and social care policy is to promote overall mental health and well-being and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways.  

The two main pillars of the mental health and social care policy are inter-departmental convergence and robust engagement with communities.  

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma stated that this policy will ensure proper attention to mental health, especially for children, adolescents and youth.  

The Meghalaya CM said: “We strongly feel that mental health issues are often neglected and hence a comprehensive policy was required to address the issue. This policy will ensure that proper attention is given to mental health, particularly for our youth and adolescents.”  

The policy is part of a sensitive public health approach adopted by the State for providing mental, psychological and social care for the residents.  

As part of the Meghalaya state health policy launched in May 2021, a holistic lifecycle approach is being adopted for encouraging preventive and promotive healthcare, along with upholding the curative and enabling dimensions.  

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As part of the lifecycle approach of the state health policy, the Meghalaya mental health and social care policy has been initiated.   

Meghalaya health minister James Sangma also announced this development and stated: “The policy is culturally rooted in the state and looks to address the stigma linked with mental health. The policy is also community-centric and will improve recognition, rehabilitation and reformation, necessary for creating awareness and building support systems.” 

With the pandemic highlighting the need to devise an inclusive and robust institutional response, especially for vulnerable groups, this is an effort by the Meghalaya government towards improving the psychological and overall social well-being of the people through this policy. 

It may be recalled that on World Mental Health Day on October 10, the Meghalaya government announced its first-ever draft “State Mental Health and Social Care Policy” with an aim to promote overall mental health and well-being and facilitate appropriate access and care pathways for common and severe mental health concerns.  

Meghalaya’s Mental Health & Social Care Policy is a result of iterations with several stakeholders, a process which forms an important part of the ongoing Meghalaya’s State Capability Enhancement framework.  

This process involved all concerned departments and agencies as part of a collaborative proposition towards problem identification and solving in the context of mental health.  

The Meghalaya Mental Health and Social Care Policy takes into consideration the social determinants of mental ill-health and cultural security which will be facilitated through collaborative engagement with communities to promote equitable mental health and social care for all.   

The policy will be implemented through convergence across departments and policies while strengthening human resources and community institutions including financial support and infrastructure.  

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