Pre-budget quote: Budget for mental health

Pre-budget quote: Budget for mental health“First I would like to congratulate the current Government for spotlighting mental health concerns in India. The Government’s effort to set up toll-free helpline, MANAS across the country helped bring much-needed attention and access to mental health services, thus bringing mental health conversations in open and on larger platforms possible. Having said this mental health is still a real challenge in India and is shredded in taboo. To ensure the momentum of progress in the space we hope for a significant increase in and a balanced budgetary allocation for mental health. Funding should be increased to make outpatient mental health care services available at all Primary Health Centres and bolster community-based services to close the existing treatment gap of up to 83%.

With WHO citing that one in every five Indians suffers from some kind of mental illness, there is an urgent need for the government to adopt a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral approach to work on the problem.

While tele mental health services certainly aid in making help accessible to large swathes of the population, there is a crippling shortage of professionals who could service the increasing number of people seeking therapy for sustained treatment. It is recommended to have at least three psychiatrists per one lakh people whereas India’s ratio is less than one per 1 lakh people. The amount of education and training medical students receive in the field of mental health and psychiatry is limited- only 1.4% lecture hours and a 2-week internship in a medical school, this need to change, and a concentrated effort towards increasing seats in medical colleges for postgraduate and super specialization courses in psychiatry needs to be made, especially in smaller states to facilitate the generation of more mental healthcare professionals in the country. Incentives should be provided so that more and more experts choose to work in India instead of heading abroad for favourable opportunities.

Non-health sectors such as education and corporates must also be encouraged to imbibe mental health in their policies and help in increasing awareness and support.

Increased investment in mental health will not only have improved health outcomes and equip people to live their lives to the fullest but also significantly contribute to the economy, which is crucial for the progress of our nation.”

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