Should India Increase its Spending on Mental Healthcare

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It is imperative to ensure that one has a sound mental health in order to lead a happy, productive and a successful life. Mental health has a direct influence on one’s physical and emotional well being. It affects the productivity of an individual and has a direct link to the social and economic growth of a nation. Thus it is important to improve and strengthen the mental healthcare system of India.

Surveys and Reports related to Mental Healthcare

According to the National Mental Health Survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, 10.6 percent of the Indian population, i.e. nearly 150 million people in India struggle daily with mental health and substance use disorders. While 50 percent of the Indian population suffers from depression and anxiety disorders, 0.9 percent of the population is prone to having suicidal tendencies. Apart from having a debilitating effect on one’s mind and soul, poor mental health also results in mental morbidity and leads to neurosis in addition to stress disorders.

Effect of poor mental health on economic output: Mental health also has a far –reaching effect on the growth and development of a nation. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization, the global economy is set to face a financial loss of USD 1.03 trillion between the years 2012 to 2030 to lost productivity, resulting as a consequence of poor mental health. Thus it is important for nations to take care of its citizens and its workforce and invest in mental healthcare services for its citizens.

Prioritization of Mental Health

Realizing the growing importance of mental health in the progress of a nation and the wellbeing of its citizens, the Government of India in the Union Budget 2022-23, has proposed to institute the National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP).

Under this national mental health programme, 23 tele – mental health centres across India would be providing tele-mental health services to those in need under the supervision of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences. This government scheme for mental health in India would seek to provide counseling and primary mental healthcare services to all citizens of the nation, especially those residing in underserved and remote areas.

The services which would be provided to the citizens free of cost would receive technical support from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bengaluru and the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC). This would go a long way in offering mental health care services to those suffering from psychological distress in their hour of need.

Budget Allocation to Healthcare

Taking into account the rise in mental health issues and anxiety disorders in India in the wake of COVID -19, the Government of India in the Union Budget 2022-23, has allocated 86200.65 crore to the health sector. However, despite the fact that there has been an increase in the budgetary allocation to health in India by almost 16 percent this year as compared to the previous year, mental health is yet to be prioritized in India as reflected in the annual budget. The budget for mental health this year has thus left the healthcare sector wanting for more.

Mental Health and Poverty

It is important to realize that mental health and poverty are closely interlinked. While the former is caused by acute poverty, among other factors, poor mental health can also lead to destitution as mental health issues lowers a person’s productivity. A person suffering from severe depression may be unable to work, and thereby be forced to grapple with unemployment and financial stress ultimately leading to abject poverty.

Thus it is imperative that the Government of India invests more on mental health and makes mental health a national priority giving it the utmost attention it deserves. This would ensure that people suffering from mental health concerns are not plagued by poverty and can contribute towards the growth of a nation.

Looking Forward

The Government of India should invest more on the healthcare sector, particularly on mental healthcare to ensure the welfare of its citizens. This can be done by relooking at existing policies and prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable section of our society.

Mental health disorders are a silent killer and pervades across all age groups in India. It is our responsibility as empathetic citizens to help those who are struggling with mental health concerns by offering them our unwavering support in every way and ensuring that they do not wallow in misery and instead embrace life with positivity, hope and optimism.

Smile Foundation and Mental Healthcare

Smile Foundation in its efforts to make a holistic learning environment for children tries to include mental healthcare as one of its prime features. After all, all work and no plays focused on mental peace can make our Jacks/Jackies a dull boys/girls/transgenders.

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