Mental health needs higher budgetary allocations: Experts

The experts while deliberating at Jindal University underscore the need for interdisciplinary and collaborative research by education institutions

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New Delhi: In an interactive seminar organized by NCR-based O P Jindal Global University, experts stressed on the need of higher budgetary allocation for mental health care from both union and state governments.

“Despite the overall health budget in 2017 being increased to 48,878 crore (2.27 percent of total Union Budget) the mental health budget was a meager 0.16 percent of the health budget,” said Prof (Dr) Sanjeev P Sahni, Principal Director, Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences.

Dr Sahni further highlighted the WHO figure of five crore Indian’s are suffering  from depression and said, “This WHO figure is a reality but there is another reality of India having a total of only 898 clinical psychologists, 1 for every 13 lakh people and a total of 3800 psychiatrists, 1 for every 3,30,000. There is need for mental health services to be available in each district across the country and the essential drug list to be available free of cost in government hospitals.”

Professor (Dr) C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, O P Jindal Global University in his augural speech said, “We need to acknowledge how educational collaborations aim to discuss issues like depression which have a global impact. This seminar has the potential to bring about partnerships between the two universities and countries. This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to discuss depression through the shared experiences in various disciplines in both the countries. We hope that this initiative of Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences and Melbourne University brings about new ideas along with substantial collaborations on research on mental health.”

Jindal Global University, the University of Melbourne, Australia and the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, Delhi jointly organized the seminar.

The seminar entitled ‘Depression: Let’s talk about what we all should know’ was an initiative of Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences (JIBS) to understand the mental and physical manifestations of depression and its effects on individuals and the society. An ideational exchange between academicians and mental health experts from the three countries, the seminar aimed to assess the extent of prevalence of depression in these societies and explore prevention and treatment methods.