More attention to mental healthcare, special needs education

As we eagerly await this year’s Union Budget, we can sincerely hope that the issues regarding mental healthcare and special needs education are recognised and addressed in the Government’s developmental plans.

Mental healthcare is a much-neglected arena in our country. To cater to a population of 1.3 billion, India only has about 0.3 mental health professionals and 10 hospital beds per 100,000 people. Most Western countries spend 4 per cent of the budget on mental health while India spends only 0.4 per cent. Most services operate privately and there is no government monitoring or standardised guidelines being followed.

The government’s fiscal policy must consciously allocate far greater funding for a comprehensive mental healthcare infrastructure that includes research, framework and the development of a trained mental health fraternity. Many more modern mental healthcare hospitals with in-patient facilities across the country are the need of the hour. Facilities that cater specifically to the needs of women must be fast-tracked. Money should also be earmarked for a nation-wide campaign that wielp create awareness and alleviate the stigma attached to mental concerns.

Sill hmilarly, when it comes to the education for children with special needs, it is time for action. Despite the provisions of the Disability Act (1995) and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan, 5,94,000 (28.2 per cent) of disabled children are out of school even today. Children with special needs deserve quality education and skill-sets training that will help them grow into independent individuals who will be better equipped to fulfill their dreams and goals.

I am hopeful that a small but substantial slice of this year’s budgetary pie will be allotted to these relatively-neglected areas of society.
Source: Budget 2018: Neerja Birla’s Budget wishlist: More attention to mental healthcare, special needs education – The Economic Times

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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