Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday announced a National Tele-Mental Health Programme while presenting the Union Budget for 2022. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru will be the nodal agency for this.

"The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To improve the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a National Tele-Mental Health Programme will be launched," announced Sitharaman in Parliament.

She said that an open platform for the national digital health ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identities, consent framework and universal access to the health facilities.

The programme will consist of 23 tele-mental health centres as a part of the network with NIHMANS being the central agency. The technical support for the mental health programme will be provided by the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bengaluru.

"I recognise that we are in the midst of an Omicron wave with high incidence but with milder symptoms. Further, the speed and coverage of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly. With the accelerated improvement of health infrastructure in the past two years, we are in a strong position to withstand challenges. I am confident that with 'Sabka Prayas', we'll continue our journey with strong growth," said Sitharaman while presenting her fourth Union Budget.