In Budget 2022, mental health gets attention, National Tele Mental Health programme launched

The Finance Minister tabled the budget at 11 am on February 1. President Ram Nath Kovind had kicked off the Budget Session of the Parliament on January 31

During the pandemic, the mental health of one and all has been affected. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged this fact in the Union Budget speech she presented in the Parliament on Friday, February 1, 11 am.  

Hence, to provide better access to mental health facilities, especially counselling and care services, the National Tele Mental Health programme will be launched, said the Minister. She also shared that a network of 23 Tele Mental Health Centres of Excellence will be developed and the nodal centre will be the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, while the technical support for the same will be provided by the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bengaluru.

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According to a recent survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup (2021), it was found that the youth of India is hesitant to reach out and seek help when it comes to mental health issues. Only 41 per cent of youngsters between the age of 15-24 years said that it would be good to get support for mental health issues. Hopefully, with better access induced by the newly announced programmes, the youth will be more willing to reach out when it comes to their mental health.

Last year's budget was the first one to be presented amid the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive farmers' protest. Sitharaman replaced the Swadeshi 'bahi khata' and switched to a tablet, to go digital from 2021. She was seen carrying a tablet kept inside a red cover with a golden national emblem embossed on it. Announcing the Economic Survey last year, she had pegged the GDP growth at 11 per cent in Financial Year 2021-22. But the Indian economy has come close to the projection. Advance estimates suggest that the Indian economy is expected to witness a real GDP expansion of 9.2 per cent in 2021-22, after contracting in 2020-21, said the latest Economic Survey.

Last year, the Union Budget allotted resources towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan extensively, be it in the social sector, energy, government reforms, migrant workers or agriculture. While the National Education Policy was the focus, the education sector saw a budgetary slash of 6 per cent from Rs 99 crores to Rs 93.2 crores last year.

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