Many people are experiencing mental health issues because of the fast-paced nature of today’s world. Seeking therapy is still taboo, especially in our country. There is fear of stigmatization and labelling. Still, some people want to consider therapy to vent their emotions and stress out and live effectively but they are unable to do so because prices of therapy are peaking every day and there are very limited options for people to consider. Let us see various options available for us and how we can look for budget-friendly mental health options.
The Importance of Mental Health in the Budget
Mental health is the most prevailing issue in these hard times. Post covid, its importance has increased even more. The government and people have started realizing the importance of mental health and its impact on our body, mind, and behaviour. In the year, 2017, The Union Finance Minister allocated Rs. 670 Crore, or around 1.4%, of the total budget outlay of more than Rs. 86,000 Crore, in 2017 for mental healthcare.
The importance of affordable mental health lies in the fact that all of us have our daily struggles, we are fighting every minute, at times with people around, at times with ourselves. Sometimes, we lack the required support and therapy provides us with that space where we can share our thoughts without being judged and feel heard.
There is a diverse range of people coming from varied socio-economic backgrounds. Some can afford therapy and some cannot afford it. It becomes very important that people can have therapy on a budget because India is a country where the prevalence of mental illness is quite high and most people come from a middle-class background and some even below it. Fulfilling one’s basic needs becomes a priority and therefore, it is extremely important to get services on a budget because many people don’t have enough financial resources for it.
A little over 14% of Indian individuals have or will have a mental illness, according to the National Mental Health Survey 2019. It is estimated that 38 million individuals in the nation suffer from anxiety disorders, while about 56 million people suffer from depression. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2012 and 2030, the nation’s financial burden from poor mental health will exceed $1.03 trillion.
Budget-Friendly Therapy Alternatives
Because of the increasing demand for therapy these days, there are various online therapy options available in India. Since many people don’t have enough time to go and consult a therapist offline, online therapy is becoming very popular these days, especially after Covid 19. It has proven to be very useful for helping people with their stress, depression, anxiety, isolation, relationship issues, career-related problems, grief, etc.
Let us see what are the various online therapy options available in India:-
- HUMANISING LIVES: PRO BONO THERAPY: founded by Ekta Prakash Sharma after COVID-19. The first five sessions are for free. After which they charge 500 per session.
- PRAAN WELLNESS: FREE DISTRESS HELPLINE: Started by Surya Pulagam focusing on suicide prevention in rural India and now moving to urban areas as well.
- SOULUP: PEER CONVERSATIONS: Started by Mahak Maheshwari and Punita Mittal, the mental health tech start-up provides a platform for people to deal with mental health issues through ‘peer’ conversations and group therapies.
- MINDPEERS: Expert professionals help people in dealing with various issues with just 300 rs starting.
- 7 CUPS: It provides affordable therapy and 24/7 chat services for teens and all who need it.
- MANN TALKS: they provide free counselling sessions on anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc.
- TELEPHONIC COUNSELING: Apart from all of these, there are some free telephonic counselling services as well, like the Sneha Foundation, Arpita Foundation, Vandrevala Foundation, TISS icall, voices that Care, etc.
Government Initiatives for Affordable Mental Health
- Setting Helpline Numbers: Setting up a 24/7 helpline to provide psychosocial support, by mental health professionals, to the entire affected population, divided into different target groups viz children, adults, elderly, women, and healthcare workers.
- Issuance of Guidelines and Advisories: Issuance of guidelines/ advisories on the management of mental health issues, catering to different segments of society.
- Advocacy through Social Media Platforms: Advocacy through various media platforms in the form of creative and audio-visual materials on managing stress and anxiety, and promoting an environment of support and care for all.
- National TELE Mental Health Programme: Besides the above, the Government has launched a “National Tele Mental Health Programme” on 10th October 2022, to improve further access to quality mental health counselling and care services in the country. As of 09.03.2023, 25 States/ UTs have set up 36 Tele MANAS Cells and have started mental health services.
- Increasing Students Intake: Under the Tertiary care component of the National Mental Health Programme, 25 Centres of Excellence and 47 PG Departments have been sanctioned to increase the intake of students in PG departments in mental health specialities as well as to provide tertiary-level treatment facilities.
- Providing Affordable and Accessible Mental Health Services: Furthermore, the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) is being implemented nationwide by the government to provide accessible and reasonably priced mental healthcare.
Health workers’ online capacity is increased by NIMHANS to offer psychological assistance and training via the (iGOT)-Diksha platform.
The DMHP provides outpatient services, assessments, counselling, psycho-social interventions, continuing care, and support for individuals with severe mental disorders. Additionally, it offers medications, outreach services, ambulance services, and other facilities at the Community Health Centre (CHC) and Primary Health Centre (PHC) levels.
The Comprehensive Primary Health Care package under the Ayushman Bharat – HWC Scheme now includes mental health care.
Navigating Insurance for Therapy Coverage
It’s likely that you already feel overburdened if you’re seeking mental health care. Insurance benefit navigation might be challenging. This causes difficulties or even postpones therapy for a lot of people. According to research, not having insurance poses a major obstacle to getting mental health care. Most insurance plans cover mental health care; however, it may not always be clear exactly what the coverage is or how much will be out of pocket. The coverage provided by various insurance plans varies regarding mental health. While some policies solely cover hospital stays, some furthermore pay for out-of-hospital visits and therapies.
Read More: 12 Short Films That Talk About Mental Health
Insurance typically assists in covering costs associated with psychiatric problems, including hospital stays, doctor visits, tests, medications, treatment, counselling, and more. Depending on the plan you select. As a result, policyholders are encouraged to carefully study the policy documentation to comprehend the precise coverage that is offered and make an informed decision about which insurance plan they would choose.
In conclusion, therapy has become an essential requirement in these challenging times. One should not be deprived of it due to financial issues. While considering therapy, always do your research and look for services that are within your budget. Ensure to seek services when you need them and help your loved ones also seek these services. There is always a way, you just need to find it and have the courage to pursue it.
Birla, N. (2023, January 31). Why mental health needs a big boost in Budget 2023. Times of India Blog. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/why-mental-health-needs-a-big-boost-in-budget-2023/?source=app&frmapp=yes
Initiatives taken to tackle mental health issues. (n.d.). https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1910381#:~:text=Besides%20the%20above%2C%20the%20Government,have%20started%20mental%20health%20services.
Mani, S. (2023, October 10). ‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay:’ 7 Indians Making Mental Health Affordable & Accessible Every Day. The Better India. https://www.thebetterindia.com/331893/mental-health-care-therapy-counselling-affordable-startups-india-online/