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Understanding the National Mental Health Policy of India

Team AckoJan 18, 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, mental health is gaining recognition as a vital aspect of overall well-being. The National Mental Health Policy is a crucial framework that addresses the mental health needs of our country's population.

By encompassing a range of strategies, initiatives, and programs, this policy aims to promote mental health, prevent mental disorders, and ensure access to quality mental health services for all citizens.




What is the National Mental Health Policy?

The National Mental Health Policy is a government-introduced policy that aims to address and improve mental health services in India, ensuring better access and support for individuals dealing with mental health challenges. It was launched on October 10, 2014

The 65th World Health Assembly, which took place in 2013, approved and adopted resolution WHA 6.5, addressing the global burden of mental disorders and emphasising the importance of a comprehensive and coordinated reaction from the health and social sectors at the community level. India played a significant role as one of the main sponsors of this resolution. The National Mental Health Policy of India aligns with the objectives and intentions outlined in the WHA resolution, aiming to address mental health issues in the country effectively.

National Mental Health Policy: Vision

The vision of the policy is related to promote mental health, prevent mental illness, support recovery, destigmatize mental health conditions, and facilitate the socio-economic inclusion of individuals affected by mental illness. It aims to achieve these objectives by ensuring accessible, affordable, and high-quality health and social care services for all, within a framework based on human rights principles.

National Mental Health Policy: Values and principles

Here’s a list of the values and principles associated with the National Mental Health Policy.

1. Equity

In India, mental health services should take into consideration the diversity of social and cultural contexts, as well as the needs of remote and rural communities. Adequate budgetary allocation should be ensured to address the burden of mental health problems and illnesses in a fair and equitable manner.

Furthermore, individuals with mental health issues should have equal opportunities to access education, employment, housing, and social welfare, promoting inclusivity and social integration. The policy aims to create a supportive environment that fosters mental well-being and provides equal opportunities for all individuals irrespective of their mental health status.

2. Justice

Taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of the community is crucial. The National Mental Health Policy aims to ensure that mental health services are inclusive and accessible to all, especially those who may face social, economic, or other forms of exclusion.

By considering the unique challenges and circumstances of these individuals, the policy seeks to create a comprehensive and supportive mental health system that leaves no one behind.

3. Integrated care

To effectively deliver mental health services, a Primary Health Care approach within the existing healthcare system should be adopted. As some mental illnesses are chronic, individuals with these conditions will require long-term support, potentially throughout their lives.

To ensure a robust mental health system, it is essential to uphold values such as equitable distribution, community involvement, cross-sectoral coordination, and appropriate use of technology. 

The mental health services in India must be comprehensive, catering to the needs of individuals with mental illnesses, their caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

4. Evidence-based care

In the context of mental health services, decision-making should be informed by evidence-based interventions. This means that the provision of services should be guided by a range of evidence, including research findings, practice-based evidence, and feedback from clients. 

5. Quality

Mental health services in India should not only meet international quality standards but also be culturally sensitive and acceptable to local users and caregivers. 

National Mental Health Policy: Goals

Here’s a list of goals associated with the National Mental Health Policy.

  • The primary objectives are to mitigate the long-term impact of mental health issues.

  • Additionally, the goal is to enhance awareness of mental health concerns throughout the nation.

  • Another key aim is to bolster mental health leadership at the national, state, and district levels, thereby fostering effective governance and implementation of mental health initiatives.

National Mental Health Policy: Objectives

Here’s a list of objectives related to the National Mental Health Policy.

  • Ensure universal access to mental health care and services.

  • Enhance access to and utilisation of comprehensive mental health services for individuals with mental illnesses.

  • Improve access to mental health care, with a focus on vulnerable groups, including the homeless, those in remote areas, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Mitigate the prevalence and impact of risk factors for mental health problems.

  • Reduce the risk, occurrence, and rate of suicide attempts.

  • Protect the rights and safety of individuals with mental health issues.

  • Fight the stigma related to mental health problems.

  • Strengthen the availability and equitable distribution of skilled mental health professionals.

  • Increase financial allocation and support for mental health promotion and care utilisation.

Cross-cutting issues

Here are some issues regarding mental health that need to be addressed.

  • Stigma: One of the major challenges in mental health is the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Efforts should be made to raise awareness, educate the public, and promote understanding to combat stigma. 

  • Rights-based Approach: A rights-based approach emphasises that individuals with mental health problems should have their rights respected and protected. This includes ensuring access to appropriate care, support, and inclusion in society without discrimination.

  • Vulnerable population: Special attention needs to be given to vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, those in remote areas, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

  • Funding: Adequate funding and resource allocation are crucial to strengthen mental health services. Sufficient financial support will enable the development and maintenance of comprehensive mental health programs, infrastructure, and skilled human resources.

Strategic directions and recommendations of action

Here’s a list of the interventions.

  • Mental health accountability and governance that is effective

  • Mental health promotion

  • Prevention steps towards mental illness and suicide

  • Universal access when it comes to services associated with mental health

  • Availability of trained professionals in the mental health field

  • Participation of the community

  • Adequate research

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of FAQs related to the National Mental Health Policy.


How does the policy address the issue of stigma?

The policy addresses stigma by encouraging open discussions about mental health, implementing awareness campaigns, and fostering a supportive environment for those seeking help.

How can communities play a role in supporting the policy's implementation?

Communities can play a significant role by participating in awareness campaigns, supporting those with mental health issues, and advocating for mental health services.

What are the advantages of integrating mental health services into primary healthcare?

Such integration ensures that individuals receive comprehensive care leading to improved overall health outcomes.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet, and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making related decisions. 


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