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National Mental Health Program (NMHP)

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, August marked the 41st anniversary of the National Mental Health Program (NMHP), a government initiative to address the burden of mental disorders.

About National Mental Health Program (NMHP)

Historical Perspective about Mental Health Care

  • The Bhore Committee’s 1946 report emphasized the importance of mental health in India’s public health system and recommended increased mental health facilities and training for health workers.
  • Post-independence efforts, including the Mudaliar Committee and the Srivastava Committee, focused on district mental health units, training, and public awareness.
  • India was part of a WHO project in the 1970s to extend mental health care, leading to the development of a national mental health program.

 National Mental Health Program (NMHP)

  • The NMHP, launched in 1982, focused on providing mental healthcare for all, with a three-tiered delivery system, community participation, and regulatory institutions like the Central Mental Health Authority (CMHA) and State Mental Health Authority (SMHA).
  • The District Mental Health Program (DMHP) was launched in 1996 to focus on early detection and treatment, training of health personnel, and community mental health services, expanding to over 700 districts.
  • The NMHP was revamped in 2003, with a focus on upgrading infrastructure, setting up centers of excellence, and introducing life skills education and counseling.
  • The National Mental Health Policy in 2014 aimed to promote mental health, prevent mental illnesses, and ensure socio-economic inclusion.


  • India’s mental health system faces challenges, including a shortage of specialists, inadequate infrastructure, and limited accessibility.
  • The program model primarily focused on pharmacological interventions, excluding psychosocial aspects of treatment and community participation.
  • Funding issues and fragmented responsibilities across levels affected the program’s performance.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the mental health burden, highlighting the need for easily accessible mental healthcare services.


  • Recommendations for improvement include more psychiatric units at the sub-district level, additional human resources, community participation, and robust monitoring systems.
  • Adequate resource allocation is necessary to align with NMHP goals and ensure the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all.

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