The government plans to improve its mental health services network, especially amid the pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the Union Budget for 2022-23 on Tuesday, February 1. She announced an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem, which will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework and universal access to health facilities.
Speaking in the Parliament, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said that the pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. In light of this, she said, a national tele mental health programme will be launched so that citizens may get access to quality mental healthcare services. This programme will include a network of 23 tele mental health sectors of excellence, with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru being the nodal centre and the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-Bangalore) providing technology support, she added.
The previous Union Budget for 2021-22 had proposed a total of Rs 71,269 crore for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which also included the budget for mental healthcare – Rs 597 crore. However, only 7% of the mental health budget was allocated for the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) and a majority of the fund was allocated to two institutions: Rs 500 crore for Bengaluru based NIMHANS and Rs 57 crore for Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health in Tezpur. The allocation for the NMHP in 2021-22 was Rs 40 crore, the same as in 2020.
On Tuesday, while presenting the Budget for 2022-23, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that health and wellbeing were one of the key pillars of an Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-sufficient India).