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Mental Health Policy in India: Seven Sets of Questions and Some Answers


  • Mirza, Arshad
  • Singh, Nirvikar


The context of the paper's analysis is the arguably poor state of mental health care in India, as well as an unprecedented level of policy attention to the issue. The questions posed pertain to (1) the provision of such care in hospitals, (2) non-hospital provision, including by non-medical providers, (3) issues of education and social acceptance, (4) affordability, (5) within-country variation of care and possibilities for benchmarking, (6) aggregate resource impacts of a concerted effort to change policies and improve care, and (7) the shape of a more effective “continuum of care for mental health issues. The paper argues that, while new laws and policies being introduced in India propose ideas and changes that are groundbreaking for that country, leading to cautious optimism, there still are many gaps in the understanding of the challenges of the provision of increased access to, as well as better quality, mental health care throughout the country. These challenges can be understood on two fronts: one is the psychiatric and medical aspect of the issues, and the other is the management and administration of the system. A priority in achieving the goals of greater access and better quality is to increase the number of trained personnel at all levels of specialization and skilling that are relevant. Further, while the new legal framework and policy identify the importance of information technology in rapid expansion of access to mental healthcare, more context-specific research and trials are needed. With respect to the administration and management needs of the public system, important challenges will be the need for significant organizational innovations in the education system, and cultural changes that allow specialized medical professionals to accept the use of software and less-qualified, more dispersed, frontline providers. A final area is the interface between the public and private sectors, including the role of non-profit organizations: challenges include information sharing, division of responsibilities, and resource allocation.

Suggested Citation

  • Mirza, Arshad & Singh, Nirvikar, 2018. "Mental Health Policy in India: Seven Sets of Questions and Some Answers," MPRA Paper 91046, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:91046

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
    2. Wameq A. Raza & Ellen Poel & Arjun Bedi & Frans Rutten, 2016. "Impact of Community‐based Health Insurance on Access and Financial Protection: Evidence from Three Randomized Control Trials in Rural India," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6), pages 675-687, June.
    3. Jishnu Das & Jeffrey Hammer & Kenneth Leonard, 2008. "The Quality of Medical Advice in Low-Income Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 93-114, Spring.
    4. Andrés, Antonio Rodríguez & Chakraborty, Bidisha & Dasgupta, Piyali & Mitra, Siddhartha, 2014. "Realizing the significance of socio-economic triggers for mental health outcomes in India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 50-57.
    5. Basu, Deepankar & Das, Debarshi & Misra, Kartik, 2016. "Farmer Suicides in India: Levels and Trends across Major States, 1995-2011," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2016-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item


    Mental health; India; healthcare; insurance; public policy; human rights; discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • K39 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Other
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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