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Why India’s announcement of mental health programme in its budget marked a significant step forward

It is very significant and very encouraging that the Indian government has launched a nationwide programme to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The coronavirus pandemic and its ramifications have left the world in shock and will likely continue to do so. The unprecedented crisis is beginning to replace the old standard.

COVID-19 has killed millions of individuals since its first outbreak in late 2019 and left millions of others lamenting the death of their loved ones. Humans have a propensity to move on quickly in our extremely fast-paced world, but occasionally we fail to recognise the full degree of how a catastrophe has affected us.

Covid has adversely affected our sanity in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend, but it’s crucial to recognise this and take action before it becomes worse, starts to affect our daily lives, or starts to affect the way we act.

First of all, it is entirely reasonable for people to feel anxious in light of the Covid worries and apprehensions. There will undoubtedly be worry, anxiety, and terror. Even when viewing movies or reading previously read short tales or novels, we could notice that we cry or get more emotional. It is undoubtedly challenging for the average person to comprehend what causes emotional outbursts and why emotions are triggered even by the tiniest of things. Sometimes we are unaware that possible childhood trauma is the cause of the suffering and anguish we are experiencing in our 30s and 40s. Let’s quit being in denial and stop blaming everything on the pandemic.

It is very significant and very encouraging that the Indian government has launched a nationwide programme to raise awareness of mental health issues. In light of “long Covid,” the phenomenon of coronavirus-related illnesses persisting in patients long after they recover, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a National Tele Mental Health Program when delivering the Union Budget for the years 20222023. The National Digital Health Ecosystem‘s open platform’s launch was also announced by the government.

According to Sitharaman, the programme would be implemented to increase access to high-quality mental health treatment and counselling services. A unique health identity, consent framework, digital health provider and facility registries, and open access to healthcare facilities are all part of it. It’s a significant step to normalise mental health awareness and an effort to combat the stigma around it, bearing in mind the current circumstances and the uncertain future. Governments taking such actions at the national level will undoubtedly effect changes over time, creating a shared forum for discussion on the value of mental health.

According to research that was published in the journal Plos One, coronavirus-related high distress and anxiety have a negative impact on people’s psychological wellbeing. Suicidal inclinations are clearly on the rise, aggravating underlying mental health issues. According to study that was published in August 2021, anxiety and stress have a negative impact on social dynamics and family ties. Additionally, there is a rise in the number of recorded incidents of domestic violence and alcohol misuse.

The solution to the problem was emphasised in a different study that was published in SAGE Journal.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on mental health were discussed in the study’s conclusion, which was released in September 2020 and was titled “Mental health implications of COVID-19 pandemic and its reaction in India.”

According to the report, a strong system may be provided for the nation by adopting a positive attitude, creating interventions tailored to the needs of vulnerable groups, and using effective risk communication techniques.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government brought up the issue of mental health while presenting the annual budget, a window has definitely opened to establish a healthy conversation.”What we can do in the future is to normalise it further, understand our health. Give priority to mental sanity. Tell our children why it is important. Also, keep a check of our surroundings, provide information to those who need it.”

The rare mention of mental health in the budget has been hailed by the experts.

Dr Girdhar Gyani, Director General, Association of Healthcare Providers (India), said the government’s intent of focusing on setting up 23-mental health centres will be beneficial in general and more specifically for long Covid patients.

Dr NK Pandey, Chairman and Managing Director, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, said the cases of depression and anxiety disorders witnessed an increase of about 25 per cent globally, and by 35 per cent in India alone.”It is encouraging to note the government’s attention to addressing the challenge of rising mental health issues in India and proposed to launch a National Tele Mental Health Programme.”The budget, inculcating the fact that focusing on mental and emotional wellness is the need of the hour, itself talks about how progressive we are becoming in our approach as a nation, Pandey said.

Why India’s announcement of mental health programme in its budget marked a significant step forward
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