“There are over 2 million patients affected with mental disabilities and only 43 state-run mental hospitals and an unknown number of private practices.” (NDTV)
In our previous article we looked at the rights that the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 would give people with mental disabilities. In this article we will look at the roles of establishments and institutions as prescribed by the Act.
Central and State Mental Health Authority:
These are administrative bodies who have to:-
Maintain a record of all mental health establishments who will have to fulfil different criteria as directed by the Authority.
Make quality and service provision guidelines for such establishments.
Maintain a record of mental health professionals across the country.
Train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the Act.
Receive complaints on the inadequacies in the services
Advice the government on matters relating to mental health.
A process and procedure shall be followed at all times by establishments while admitting, treating or discharging mentally ill individuals.
Mental Health Review Commission and Board
The commission will be able to make decisions and arbitrations on its own and will periodically review the use of and the procedure of making advance directives.
It will also advise the government protection of the rights of mentally ill persons.
It will also constitute Medical Health Review boards in the district of different states.
The board will also have the authority to register, alter or cancel an advance directive.
The board will appoint its own representative.
The board will also decide on complaints regarding inadequacies in care and services by mental health establishments.
It will also decide on applications from a mentally ill person, his/her relatives against decision of medical health officers or psychiatrists of a mental health institution.
Decriminalising suicide and forbidding the use of electro-convulsive therapy
Suicide is seen as a criminal activity in India but under the Act it will not be punishable under the Indian Penal Code.
Also, the use of electro-convulsive therapy will only be allowed, with the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. Its use will be prohibited for minors.
The state of mental health in India has been very dismal with many mental hospitals in an inhospitable state. Many of these establishments even lack basic necessities such as toilets. There is an urgent need to help divert attention to the plight of those affected by mental disabilities and provide them with the care they require.
Times of India
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