Decriminalizing Suicide Mental Health Care Bill Passed In Parliament
Post on 07,February 2018   5:52 PM
By - PolyEyes Staff
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This Bill has been passed in accordance with the country’s mental health laws and with relation with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which India is a part.

The Bill defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Suicide is decriminalized- person attempting suicide will be treated as mentally ill and will not be treated under IPC.

What all provisions the Bill covers? Rights of person with mental Illness- every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government at an affordable price, free for homeless and BPL.

Advance Directives: given by mentally ill person regarding her treatment and who shall be her nominated representative

Central and State Mental Health Authority has following responsibilities such as to register, supervise and maintain a register of all mental health establishments, developing a quality and service provision norms for such establishments, maintenance of a register of mental health professionals and teach/train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act, receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services, and advise the government on matters relating to mental health.

Mental Health Review Commission: It will be a quasi- judicial body that will periodically review the use of and the procedure for making advance directives and advice the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons.

Mental Health Review Board will protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance procedures arising from it. The Bill also specifies the process and procedure to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally-ill individuals. A person with mental illness shall not be subjected to electro- convulsive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants and anesthesia.

What are the issues unaddressed in the bill? As per the survey conclusion India has just 3 psychiatrists per million (global norms is 56 per million) which is very low as compared to high and ever surging number of cases. Also there is a lack of counselling centers.

The amount spent on mental healthcare is just 0.06% of health budget is very low to provide for infrastructure as envisaged in the Bill. Advance directives clause will be an issue as in many cases patients will not be able to take rational decisions as well as the bill does not focus on health and condition of existing patients in different mental institutions across the country.

The state government no less than the central government will be burdened with upgrading infrastructural facilities which is the basis of such large scale implementation. Especially across states with Bihar and UP the investment will be more and the time that will be involved is expected to lag behind by large.

Concluding Remark: Presently Depression has become one of the most leading cause of suicide and therefore needs to be tackled at legal levels too. Decriminalization of suicide implies that the government has accepted the fact that the people trying to commit suicide needs help and not punishment.

It is a rights- based approach for the health of mentally ill patients providing various rights such as access to health care facilities and providing advance directives for their treatment. It is a step forward in making heath as a fundamental right. Bringing depression and mental illness into public discourse which is considered as a taboo in India will help in early detection of the patients and can decrease in chances of suicide. We need to socially eradicate the evil associated with the dichotomy of the word mental illness which creates a social stigma leading to failures.

In today’s progressive world we need to focus on people’s mental health more than anything. To support the cause this year’s International Health Day theme is revolves around “Depression: Let’s Talk”.



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