The Congress on Tuesday urged the Centre to come up with an active policy to address mental health problems, which the party said is rising exponentially in the country in view of the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.

“It is disturbing that suicides are happening in India every 3.30 minutes,” party leader Anand Sharma said during Parliament’s Zero Hour. “India accounts for 15% of the total number of suicides in the world. Out of 8 lakh suicides happening in the world, 1.39 lakh suicides are in India.”

Sharma said that reports show one out of seven people in the country was suffering from depression. “The number of persons affected by mental health issues has exponentially increased after the Covid crisis especially students and children who are committing suicide across the country,” he said.

The Congress leader claimed the rise in suicide cases among children were because many of them were not able to access online classes, were in fear of getting affected by the coronavirus infection and non-availability of midday meals.

He added that mental illness should be brought under the ambit of life insurance. “This will help people see mental illness with the same lens as that of physical diseases,” he said.

The Congress leader also said both the central and state governments should set up helplines and counselling centres across the country to tackle the problem.

The Samajwadi Party also raised problems relating to mental illness and said that workers in both organised and unorganised sectors were affected by mental stress because of joblessness in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav demanded that unemployed workers be given a monthly allowance of Rs 15,000.

Last week, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences Director Doctor Randeep Guleria warned about psychiatric disorders because of the physical isolation that patients have to undergo due to the health crisis.

India coronavirus tally rose to 49,30,236 as it reported 83,809 new cases in the last 24 hours. The toll rose by 1,054 to 80,776.