Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy have asked government that why have they not received compensation for mental illnesses caused due to toxic exposure despite scientific evidence of 30 per cent of excess mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, insomnia?
Through the campaign, Bhopal Disaster: 37 years, 37 questions, the organisations wish to highlight urgent concerns regarding compensation, criminal justice, medical, economic and social rehabilitation and environmental remediation of polluted lands that need to be addressed to stop the ongoing disaster.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, responded immediately to the disaster by giving importance to understand the health effects on priority basis. The council brought together a large group of health researchers from different parts of India to study health effects - ranging from immediate effects on eyes, lungs, gastrointestinal system, mental health and gynaecological problems.
According to gas victims, Fourth Advisory Committee on Mental Health of ICMR met on December 12–14, 1984. According to report, the committee raised concern over exposure of normal human beings to toxic waste and shed light on mental health needs.
The acute needs included anxiety-depression reactions and grief reactions. Long-term needs arise from the following areas, namely: (i) Psychological reactions to the acute and chronic disabilities, (ii) psychological problems of exposed subjects, currently not affected, to the uncertainties of future, (iii) effects of broken social units on children and adults, and (iv) psychological problems related to rehabilitation.
However, in spite of this early recognition for need of mental health interventions, there was a delay in involving mental health professionals. An important reason for this was the absence of mental health professionals in the state in 1984. At that time, none of the five medical colleges had a psychiatrist, according to gas victims.