Economic investments and cost of mental health in India
Mental health in India Mental Health is a major factor influencing the well-being of an individual but till date we are not able to sweep off the stigmas related to mental illnesses and more than 70% of people are forced to silently suffer without uttering a single word about the mental crisis they have been going through.
It has been reported that 42.5% of the workers employed in private sector of the corporate India are prone to the sufferings caused by depression and anxiety issues at their workplace, which is not only associated with decreased performance but also mortality and morbidity.
Although every citizen in guaranteed access to mental healthcare by MHCA (Mental Health Care Act), it is tragic to report that WHO (2017) reveals that the expenditure of India in field of mental health is mere 0.06% of its health budget, as compared to foreign countries where spending even above 4% is considered not enough. Reports put forth by NIMHANS have conveyed that family members of person with mental illness lose at least 10-12 days of their work in quarter of a year, which establishes a clear relation between mental illness and work absenteeism or even unemployment. An alarming data mentioned in the National Mental Health Survey (2015-16), conducted by NIMHANS revealed that highest prevalence of mental illnesses were found in the age group of 30-49yrs- which constitutes a major proportion of working population. It was also found that the family expenditure was highly affected by the economic burden posed by mental illness, where at least 1000- 1500/month would be spent for accessing mental health care and treatment. Another set of data seen in a cost outcome study in India showed that Rs. 700 per month was the total costs at baseline for seeking treatment in India and that the indirect costs to the treatment were remarkably greater in comparison to the direct costs.
WHO gave the most disturbing figures related to mental disorders, where it is estimated that the economic loss of India due to mental health issues would escalate to 1.03 trillion dollars from 2012 to 2030.Unfortunately, the budget allocated for National Mental Health Programme got an increment of only Rs.15 crores over the years 2017-18 and was striked at Rs. 50 crores for the year 2018-19. While a glance at the data conveyed by NIMHANS, where 13.7% of the Indian population suffers from mental health issues, conveys that these funds are naturally inconsistent to the optimum requirements.
Grievously, the lack of funds is one of the major concerns in mental healthcare as budget which allocated to the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) witnessed a decline from Rs 40 crore from Rs 50 crore in FY18 and surprisingly, the actual funds that were spent only counted to Rs 5 crore during each year. Even though the overall healthcare budget saw a bump of 7% increment in the year 2020, the budget allocated for NMHP was laid almost untouched with no significant improvements. The harsh reality is the fact that the actual figures spent on mental health care in India don’t even touch the estimated budget. Along with lack of awareness among the citizens, the sector also suffers from shortage of doctors, nurses, counselors, trained paramedical staff and social workers. Thus, the Indian economy demands an investment push in the mental health sector along with spread of awareness of the facilities generated among the people such that they can easily access them and ultimately, the goal should be to de-stigmatize the mental health.