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A Report on How India is Progressing in Addressing Mental Health Issues

Written by : Jayati Dubey

October 10, 2023

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India actively addresses mental health with government initiatives and innovative startups, breaking stigma and ensuring accessibility and affordability.

As the world comes together to observe World Mental Health Day on October 10, India is taking significant strides in addressing the mental health challenges that have long been neglected in the country. Robust government initiatives and the emergence of innovative mental health startups are reshaping the landscape of mental healthcare in India.

Government's Commitment to Mental Health

The Indian government has actively worked to rectify the taboo around mental health issues. One of the crucial milestones achieved was the introduction of the Mental Healthcare Act in 2017.

This legislation decriminalised suicide attempts and guaranteed mental healthcare as a fundamental right for all citizens. The primary goal of this landmark law is to destigmatise mental health conditions and ensure that individuals in need have access to treatment.

Moreover, the government's National Mental Health Program (NMHP) has played a pivotal role in extending mental health services nationwide, specifically focusing on marginalised communities.

Under the NMHP, awareness campaigns, screening programs, and community-based services have been initiated to identify mental health issues early and provide comprehensive support to those affected.

In the 2023 budget, the Indian government allocated INR 40 Cr to the NMHP, which provides most of the country's mental health services. Additionally, INR 630 Cr was allocated for the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru and Assam's Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health.

Furthermore, the government's National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP), facilitated through Tele-MANAS, aims to provide free round-the-clock tele-mental health services, mainly targeting remote and underserved areas. The program includes a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS serving as the hub.

Mental Health Startups Making a Difference

In addition to government efforts, a wave of mental health startups has emerged in recent years, leveraging technology to revolutionise mental healthcare in India. These startups are playing a crucial role in destigmatising mental health and making it more accessible to the general population.

One such startup is LISSUN. Established in August 2021 by Krishna Veer and Tarun Gupta, LISSUN is a comprehensive mental health and wellness platform. It is dedicated to offering mental health solutions to individuals, corporations, and healthcare institutions.

LISSUN recognises that the primary challenges in this field are the lack of awareness and the stigma associated with mental health issues. Its distinctive Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is designed to address and resolve these issues.

'Amaha,' another pioneering startup, offers a range of mental health resources, including self-help tools, therapy, and counselling sessions. Using a mobile application, Amaha brings mental healthcare directly to users' fingertips.  

The platform also collaborates with employers to prioritise mental wellness in the workplace, emphasising the significance of mental health support in a professional environment.

Challenges and the Path Forward

Despite significant progress, challenges persist in India's mental health landscape. There is a need for greater investment in mental health infrastructure and continued efforts to combat the deeply ingrained societal stigma associated with seeking help for mental health conditions.

In this regard, recently, LISSUN secured $1.3 million in a seed funding round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV) and Rainmatter Capital from the Zerodha Group. These funds will be directed towards improving LISSUN's technology and product offerings, enlarging its range of mental health services, and forging partnerships with healthcare institutions and other organisations.

On this World Mental Health Day, India's progress in addressing mental health challenges through government initiatives and the pioneering work of startups brings hope for a future where mental healthcare is accessible, affordable, and destigmatised.


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