The mental health awareness issue was addressed in the budget session of 2022-23. The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the pandemic has intensified mental health-related issues. To combat the problem and to provide quality mental health counselling and services, a National Tele Mental Health Programme will be launched. It will include a total of 23 mental health centres.
Their work will function under the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). Whereas, the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru, will provide technical support.
The Director of NIMHANS, Dr Partima Murthy, said this programme will help in identifying the mild form of mental illness. At present, around 10.4% of people have been diagnosed with mental disorders but all of them do not need hospitalization.
Why Mental Health Needs To Be Addressed
According to a recent study by the Lancet Psychiatry in 2017 and by ICMR in 2019, every 7th Indian is affected by a mental disorder. In addition, the pandemic has worsened the scenario. Mental disorders come with a social stigma in our society. This is a prime reason that causes such a huge gap between the assistance and treatment needed.
The spread of awareness about mental health is crucial. Dr Mamta Sood, professor of the psychiatry department, AIIMS, applauded the decision taken by the Centre. She said that by talking about the issue of mental health during the budget session, the government has brought up the issue in the open. This will help in creating more awareness and breaking social stigma too.
During the pandemic, the role of mental health illness is also understood by many people. As they have the time to focus on the aspect of mental wellbeing. Dr Mamta Sood also added that if the model succeeds then it can help in reducing the gap between the patient and the treatment. She also said that we are lacking the fundamental facilities in the department of mental wellness like infrastructure and manpower.
In the last two years, many private players have entered the domain with the help of digital media. Dr Rajesh Sagar of AIIMS said that not only the development of telecentres but detailed guidelines about the functioning, infrastructure and manpower is required to run such a project.
Also, the one key point to be remembered is the protection of the data of such patients. As mental illness is a very individual disorder and treatment on digital medium is prone to get an access of privacy of such patients.
Statistics About Mental illness
In India, there are 2443 persons/1lakh suffering from mental illness. The government currently spends an average of four rupees for a person annually to address this issue. We lack manpower in this field to a very great number. For example, we have 0.29 psychiatrists/1 lakh persons. And 0.8 mental health nurses/1 lakh persons. A huge amount of work and awareness is required to tackle the issue in complete totality.