According to a study by Charlson et al. (2016), it is estimated that estimate that in 2025, 38.1 million years of healthy life will be lost to mental illness in India. This statistics is a 23% increase. Also, the same study estimated that the mental ill-health burden will become even heavier in India, where it is projected to increase by 25% by 2025. To address the sharp increase in mental health problems, the Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi) conducted a Workshop on Indian Knowledge System and Mental Health (IKSMH) between 25th and 27th March 2022. The workshop was widely attended by renowned researchers in the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) and Mental Health (MH) from India and abroad. Also, 20+ faculty and staff from IIT Mandi participated in this Workshop. As a part of the deliberations that took place in the Workshop, the following IKS topics emerged: Mind, brain, and consciousness with applications from consciousness studies, yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine research, and other Indian performing arts (like dance, music, and Indian languages, etc.).
Consequent to the IKSMH Workshop, it is proposed to establish an Indian Knowledge System and Mental Health Applications Centre (referred to as “IKSMHA Centre”) at IIT Mandi. The IKSMHA Centre will focus on research on topics concerning IKS, which has several benefits for the human body, mental health, and wellbeing. In fact, IKS has deep roots grounded in Indian history, philosophy, society, arts, languages, science and technology, and life sciences. IKS may incorporate the study of mind, brain, and consciousness and include applications from several areas like consciousness studies, yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine research, and other Indian performing arts.
The Centre’s main objectives are:
To be a world leader and serve Indian society via research and translation activities concerning IKS and mental health (MH). It plans to do so by banking on state-of-the-art scientific methods in answering questions related to the effectiveness of IKS on the human body, mental health, and wellbeing.
To serve as the nodal Centre for the IIT Mandi community, including IIT Mandi students, staff, and faculty, on IKS benefits for mental health.
To actively engage in skill development and impart education on IKS and mental health (MH) topics to the general public. This skill development program would involve teaching and workshop programs and undergraduate or postgraduate students grounded in IKS.
To serve the society with IKS-related research interventions, knowledge, and tools via a wellness centre, which would be open to both national and international visitors.
To translate research into possible product prototypes for mental health diagnostics, therapy, and general wellbeing.
To generate monetary resources via teaching, skill development, clinical research, wellness centre, and leasing the bleeding-edge lab equipment and other facilities to eventually become self-sustaining over time.