THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE ACT

Suicide, Stress, Depression have become the topic of a casual conversation these days and have become a frivolous conduct for media, cinema and daily conversations. The number of mental illnesses is set on an increase in India. The number of Indians suffering from mental illness is exceeding the population of South Africa. According to WHO, nearly 57 million Indians suffer from depression. One in every 22 people suffers from mental illness and this social stigma scares people from opting appropriate treatment.

To curb this growing ailment and to provide, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of persons with mental illness, the Lok Sabha has passed The Mental Healthcare Bill. The bill decriminalises the suicide attempt by mentally ill people and provide major services to them.The bill said, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.” The bill repeals the already existing archaic and inhuman Section 309 which criminalises attempted suicides.

One of the key feature of the bill is to provide proper healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation to the mentally ill persons “in a manner that does not intrude on their rights and dignity.” The Bill defines “mental illness” as “a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.” It offers the mentally ill a chance to lead a life with all the basic amenities and facilities granted by the Constitution which everyone else enjoys. It also helps provide basic rights and freedoms to those whose life until now had been marred with social stigma.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, ” “I want to tell my countrymen that depression is not incurable. The first mantra is the expression of depression instead of its suppression.”

PROVISIONS UNDER THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE BILL

1.RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

This Bill allows the person with mental illness the access to the treatment. They are given the right to have access to the mental healthcare that is funded  by the appropriate government. It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services. This also ensures free treatment to those who can not afford the treatment. Every person with mental illness have the right to live with dignity regardless of their caste, culture, social beliefs, class or disability.

2.ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

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The provision allows them to make advance directive i.e. the right to choose the kind of treatment they want for their illness and also the right to choose their representative. The advance directive should be certified or registered by Mental Health Board. If the mental health professional do not wish to follow the directive, then he needs to make an application to cancel the advance directive.

3.MENTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY

The bill empowers the government to authorize every mental health organization or mental practitioners. Every mental health establishments should be registered with the Central or State Mental Health Authority. A Mental Health Review Board will be constituted to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance directives .

4.MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT

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The bill also specifies the process and procedure for the admission, treatment and discharge of the mentally ill person.

RELATED : Treatments for Mental Illness

5.MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION AND BOARD

The bill mandates the constitution of a Mental Health Review Board to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance directives.It further states that the body in agreement with the state governments constitute Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts.

6.DECRIMINALIZING SUICIDE AND PROHIBITING ELECTRO-CONVULSIVE THERAPY

Attempting suicide is no longer a criminal. Rather it is to be presumed that the person is suffering from a mental disorder at that time and will not be punished under Indian Penal Code. The government has the duty to provide healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation to the mentally ill person. Also, the Electro-Covulsive Therapy which is allowed only with the use of anaesthesia, is however out of bounds for minors.

The Mental Healthcare Bill, therefore, expands the definition of mental illness and replaces the term “mentally ill” with “person with mental illness”, thereby suggesting that mental illness is not a permanent state; rather it is a temporary phase that can be treated. It has also provided a new standard to the social stigma and taboo attached with mental illness.

The Department of Psychiatry of Radix Healthcare, plays a vital role in providing healthcare services to the mentally ill people.

 

 

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