National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-16: Summary


This is the first of a tripartite report by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, in alliance with 15 institutions from across India. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India. It covers 12 Indian states, (and 34, 802 individuals) and aims to be a nationally representative survey on mental health issues. Females comprised 52.3 per cent of all respondents in the survey.

These were the 12 states covered: Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (north),  Tamil Nadu and Kerala (south),  Jharkhand and West Bengal (east),  Rajasthan and Gujarat (west), Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (central India), and Assam and Manipur (north-east).

The report says that nearly 15 per cent of adults in India require treatment for one or more mental health disorders. Yet, most state governments allocate less than 1 per cent of their budget to mental health.

The survey examines the prevalence and patterns of mental health problems in India, their impact on individuals, gaps in mental healthcare, and how existing mental healthcare services are utilised.

This first part is a summary of the entire report.


  1. The report estimates that nearly 150 million Indians currently require mental healthcare services, where mental health disorders are defined by the ICD-10. (ICD or the International Classification of Diseases, is the global health information standard maintained by the World Health Organization.) 

  2. A mental health ‘treatment gap’ refers to a situation in which individuals with psychiatric disorders remain untreated although effective treatments exist for them. In India, the report says, there treatment gap ranges from 28 to 83 per cent for various mental disorders. Apart for epilepsy, there is a gap of more than 60 per cent for all other mental disorders. Alcohol use disorders account for the highest treatment gap at 86 per cent.

  3. The report states that 1 in 20 people are depressed, and 1 in 40 have experienced depression in the past. 

  4. Mental health disorders are more prevalent among males (13.9 per cent) than females (7.5 per cent). However, specific disorders are more common in females, such as depression, phobic anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.

  5. The report shows that 7.3 per cent of those in the 13-17 age group had mental disorders – nearly 9.8 million people. The rate was similar for boys and girls. 

  6. Severe mental disorders, the report notes, include depression, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. The authors say that nearly 1.9 per cent of the population have had a severe mental disorder in their lifetime, and 0.8 per cent of people currently have one. 

  7. Mental disorders were nearly twice as prevalent in urban areas (13.5 per cent) than in rural areas (6.9 per cent).

  8. In urban areas, more men than women reported severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, alcohol dependency and bipolar disorder.

  9. Close to 1 per cent of the population reported suicidal tendencies, or a ‘suicidal risk’. This was most common for the age group 40-49 (1.19 per cent), among females (1.14 per cent), and among those residing in urban areas (1.71 per cent). Half of those at ‘suicidal risk’ also had a mental disorder.

  10. The report recommends that the government implement a policy for mental health literacy, which focuses on promoting mental health, early recognition of mental disorders, the rights of mentally ill persons, and de-stigmatising mental illness.

    Focus and Factoids by Rounak Bhat.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru


National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru