Under the aegis of Indian Association for Social Psychiatry, a symposium was presented in WPA XVII World Congress of Psychiatry, Berlin 2017. It was titled “Social Psychiatry in South Asia”
Abstract: Social psychiatry deals with the interplay between social factors and onset, progression, treatment and recovery from mental and substance use disorders (MSUD). MSUD contribute significantly to the global burden of disease, accounting for 32.4% of years lived with disability and 13.0% of disability-adjusted life-years as per recent estimates. In South Asia, where one fourth of the humanity lives and number of persons with MSUD is enormous, the mental health resources (manpower, especially non-psychiatrist mental health professionals and infrastructure) are abysmally low with <1% of health budget being spent on mental health. Most patients with MSUDs who reach a mental health facility receive only pharmacological treatment due to availability of cheap generic psychotropic drugs from outpatient services. Most of these patients continue to live with their families who provide psycho-social interventions as per their resources.  Informal systems of mental health care exist in form of alternative medicine practitioners and medico-religious healers. Social psychiatry is completely ignored in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculum. However, the society in this region is changing in form of rapid urbanization, disintegration of the joint family system, rising aspirations and changing social values of young population. Stigma associated with mental disorders remains as strong as before. Most of the mental health budget is exhausted on bridging the treatment gap with minimal efforts in the field of mental health prevention and promotion.
In this symposium, the role of social psychiatry in bringing focus on to psycho-socio-cultural factors important for enhancing the treatment gap by harnessing the strengths and understanding the limitations of various stakeholders and agencies in South Asia was discussed.

Chair: Prof R K Chadda, Co-Chair: Prof Mamta Sood
Practice of Social Psychiatry in South Asia: Rajiv Gupta
Social Psychiatry and Medical Education in South Asia: Mamta Sood
Family Caregivers in South Asia: Vinay Kumar
Role of Social Psychiatry in Mental Health Prevention in South Asia: UC Garg
Challenges to Mental Health in South Asia: Solutions from Social Psychiatry: R K Chadda