NHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice H.L.Dattu, said that huge gap still remains in the implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
The Mental Health Care Act, 2017, came into force on May 2018, superseding the Mental Health Act, 1987.
Salient features of the act:
- It defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.
- It does not include mental retardation which is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person, specially characterised by subnormality of intelligence.
- Rights of persons with mental illness:
- IT also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or belong to Below Poverty Line, even if they do not possess a BPL card.
- A person with mental illness shall have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare.
- Advance Directive: A person with mental illness shall have the right to make an advance directive that states how he/she wants to be treated for the illness and who his/her nominated representative shall be. The advance directive should be certified by a medical practitioner or registered with the Mental Health Board.
- Mental Health Authority: it empowers the government to set-up Central Mental Health Authority at national-level and State Mental Health Authority in every State. Every mental health institute and mental health practitioners will have to be registered with this Authority.
- Mental Health Review Board: A Mental Health Review Board will be constituted to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance directives.
- Mental Health treatment:
- A person with mental illness shall not be subjected to electro-convulsive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. Also, electro-convulsive therapy will not be performed for minors.
- They shall not be chained in any manner or form whatsoever under any circumstances.
- Suicide is decriminalised: A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code.
Present status of implementation:
- Only 19 States have implemented the Mental Healthcare Act so far.
- There is a requirement of 13500 psychiatrists but only 3827 are available. Against the requirement of 20250 clinical psychologists only 898 are available.
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