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Budget 2019: Neerja Birla, Prakriti Poddar's wishlist includes better infrastructure, access to mental health experts

Industry captains share their hopes from the NDA 2.0's first Budget for the sector.

ET Online|
Jun 19, 2019, 06.12 PM IST
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ET's dualpane - 2019-06-19T165516.915
Neerja Birla (L), Founder & Chairperson, Mpower and Prakriti Poddar, Director - Poddar Wellness Ltd and Managing Trustee - Poddar Foundation.
The past year has seen a call for increasing awareness around mental health, at home and abroad. In India, mental health occupied some electoral mindshare after it appeared on the Congress's manifesto, as a clause in a section called "Samman".

"Congress promises to implement the National Mental Health Policy, 2014 and the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 in letter and spirit. We will ensure that mental healthcare professionals are appointed in all public district hospitals and that mental healthcare services are provided in such hospitals."

The CPI(M) manifesto had also pledged to implement the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act and the National Mental Health Care Act, "supported by adequate budgetary allocations".

We asked industry captains what their hopes are from the NDA 2.0's first Budget for the sector, and how reforms can help promote awareness and aid.


Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, Mpower

Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, Mpower

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 450 million people suffer from mental disorders globally with one in four people in the world affected by mental health disorders at some point in their lives. Mental health problems account for about 16 per cent of the global burden of disease in people aged 10-19 years.

"Over the years, there has there been efforts to strengthen awareness around mental health under the aegis of National Mental Health Programme. As we move ahead, we urge the government to continue implementing progressive measures and build infrastructure to make mental healthcare accessible and affordable to every Indian.”

Dr Prakriti Poddar, Director - Poddar Wellness Ltd and Managing Trustee - Poddar Foundation
"While all government policies should be gender-sensitive regardless of a male or female minister, a woman FM raises our hopes for a more gender-sensitive Budget, that includes allocation of resources to sectors that would empower more women.

"We are expecting policy announcements that will help more women entrepreneurs start businesses easily, including focus on improving urban public transport infrastructure across the country to enable women to travel safely as well as policies that help improve the safety of women. It is also pertinent to increase allocation to public policies that seek to improve the nutrition status of women and children, particularly in rural areas.

"Mental health is another sector I would like the government to focus on. With over 9 crore people estimated to be suffering from depression and anxiety disorders that need medical intervention, India is facing a huge mental health burden. Unfortunately, we are grossly under-prepared to deal with this situation. For people in rural areas, where a shortage of healthcare resources is a major problem, it is very very difficult for patients to access a mental health expert. The Health Budget must, therefore, pay due to attention to enabling greater access to mental health experts. I am also hopeful bout health policies where mental health will be covered under insurance."
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