Budget 2019 India: According to India’s latest National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 there was an overall prevalence for current mental health morbidity at 10.6 per cent.
by Pooja Priyamvada
Union Budget 2019 India: In the Budget for 2018-19 the allocation for the government’s flagship National Mental Health Programme stood at Rs. 50 crore with a small increase of mere 15 crore over 2017-18. The programme aimed at the availability of minimum mental health care and increasing qualified mental-health professionals.
Though in India approximately 13.7 per cent of the population suffers from mental disorders according to NIMHANS study and these funds are certainly not enough. Treatment coverage according to a paper published in The Lancet stated that according to WHO, in 2011, there were 0·301 psychiatrists, 0·166 nurses, and 0·047 psychologists for every 100,000 mental-disorder patients in India. This is dismal and requires huge allocations in the Budget 2019 to get any better.
The World Health Organisation estimated in 2008 that neuropsychiatric disorders in India contribute to 11.6 per cent of the burden of disease globally. Nearly 80 per cent of survivors do not receive any treatment despite the presence of illness for more than a year. There is a huge treatment gap in this segment.
According to India’s latest National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 there was an overall prevalence for current mental health morbidity at 10.6 per cent. Experts opine that mental illness sufferers have poorer educational/work outcomes and hence increase the economic burden to up to 4 per cent of GDP if not offered proper treatment, support and inclusivity in work spaces and society at large.
Globally managing mental health of working-age population is a key issue for labour market and social policies including budgets.
In India since the 1980s, the National Mental Health Programme and the District Mental Health Programme did try to integrate mental healthcare at primary level of the public health system though these didn’t perform well owing to implementation challenges, infrastructure gaps, resource constraints and financial deficits.
India currently spends a minuscule percentage of its total health budget on mental health. In addition socio-cultural barriers, taboos and stigma also require more funding for public awareness campaigns too.
The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (MHCA) is a welcome move though shortage of health workers trained in mental health and a lack of investment in mental health facilities is still a huge challenge.
The expectations from the Union budget 2019 are that it would make allocations to invest in creating public awareness campaigns about mental health, improve mental health care at primary health centre levels, facilitate training and employment of mental health professionals and inclusion of mental health as a major component of “well-being budget” just like New Zealand did recently.
(Pooja Priyamvada is an awarded blogger, social media enthusiast and columnist on mental healthcare. Views expressed are the author’s own.)