In the quest for a happier, more productive, and prosperous life, sound mental health is of paramount importance. Mental healthcare profoundly impacts one’s physical and emotional well-being, directly influencing the overall productivity and contributing to the social and economic development of a nation. Therefore, enhancing and fortifying India’s mental healthcare system is a matter of great significance.
Data from the National Mental Health Survey, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, paints a concerning picture. Approximately 10.6 percent of the Indian population, which translates to nearly 150 million people, grapple daily with mental health and substance use disorders. Furthermore, a staggering 50 percent of the population suffers from depression and anxiety disorders, while 0.9 percent is prone to suicidal tendencies.
Beyond the personal toll on individuals, poor mental health also results in mental morbidity, neurosis, and stress disorders.
Mental health extends its reach into the realm of economic growth and development. According to estimates from the World Health Organization, the global economy is projected to incur a financial loss of USD 1.03 trillion between 2012 and 2030 due to lost productivity arising from poor mental health.
Hence, it becomes imperative for nations to invest in mental healthcare services for their citizens, recognizing that the well-being of the workforce and the overall health of the nation are intrinsically linked.
Acknowledging the mounting significance of mental health for national progress and the welfare of its citizens, the Government of India, in the Union Budget 2022-23, has introduced the National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP).
Under this national initiative, 23 telemental health centers across India will provide free telemental health services under the supervision of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences. These services aim to offer counseling and primary mental healthcare services to all citizens, particularly those residing in underserved and remote areas.
Technical support for these services will be provided by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, and the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC), extending a helping hand to those in psychological distress.
In light of the increasing mental health challenges and anxiety disorders exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has allocated 86,200.65 crores to the health sector in the Union Budget 2022-23. However, despite this 16 percent increase in the health budget compared to the previous year, mental health remains an area that requires more attention.
It is crucial to recognize the close relationship between mental health and poverty. While poverty can contribute to poor mental health, the reverse is equally true. Mental health issues can lead to a decrease in productivity, potentially resulting in unemployment and financial stress, ultimately pushing individuals into poverty.
Thus, it is vital for the Government of India to invest more in mental health and prioritize it as a national concern, providing the attention it truly deserves. This approach will not only alleviate the suffering of individuals with mental health concerns but also contribute to the nation’s overall growth.
In the best interest of its citizens, the Government of India should increase investment in the healthcare sector, with a special focus on mental healthcare. This can be achieved through a reassessment of existing policies, placing the needs of the most vulnerable segments of our society at the forefront.
Mental health disorders do not discriminate based on age, affecting all segments of the Indian population. As empathetic citizens, it is our duty to support those struggling with mental health issues, ensuring they do not suffer in silence but instead embrace life with positivity, hope, and optimism.