Alliance Budget 2022: Center launches tele-mental health program

Union Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman presented the federal budget for FY23 on February 1, 2022. In her budget speech, the finance minister claimed that the budget would set the stage for reading India's 100th anniversary of independence.

In a speech addressing pandemic-induced mental health challenges, the finance minister said the central government will launch a national tele-mental health program.

"The epidemic has exacerbated mental health issues for people of all ages. To improve access to quality mental health counseling and care services, a national tele-mental health program will be launched," the minister added.

She further explained the program by saying that a network of 23 telemedicine mental health centers of excellence will be operated with NIMHANS as the nodal center. She further added that the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bangalore, will provide technical support.

A study published by KFF.org in February 2021 found that many adults reported specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being due to the ongoing pandemic, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%) increased alcohol or substance use (12%) and worsening chronic conditions (12%).

Last year, Indian startups took a number of steps to help their employees with mental health issues. For example, food delivery giant Swiggy introduced a four-day flexible work week, while Paytm announced salary and job opportunities for families of the deceased for the current fiscal year. Education technology giant BYJU announced a Rs. 20-crore fund for COVID-related expenses.

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