The Mental Healthcare Bill was first proposed in the Parliament House in 2013. One in every 20 people in India lives with a mental illness. Almost 50 million of our people are dealing with a problem that the government is only now beginning to acknowledge.
By 2020, as much as 20% of our population will be affected by various mental health issues.
Ignorance of Indian Government
The government of India is taking the mental health of the people very lightly. Except for a few ministers, nobody is interested in talking about the mental health of our country.
The Mental Healthcare Bill recognised professionals who can help with mental health treatment. The list included professionals in psychiatry, cyclical psychology, homoeopathy, naturopathy, Ayurveda and Unani. However, Psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, counselling psychologists and others are excluded. It is a rather serious omission.
Moreover, the treatment meted out in mental health institutes is often dehumanising and appalling. Rehabilitation centres and Mental care centres are supposed to be helpful and welcoming. Instead, patients are afraid of such institutes.
Mental Healthcare Bill 2017
The Bill states that everyone will have access to the mental health care treatment by the services run or funded by the government. Further, only the patients and their family will approve of the procedures. Additionally, the patient will specify the preferred treatment and care plan in writing.
The bill gives more power to those with mental disorders. For instance, if a doctor says a patient is stable enough, they can choose to be self-sufficient. Further, it legally obliges the government to provide with the basic amenities of survival.
– It gives the right to equality of treatment, protects them from inhumane treatment, access to free legal service, their medical reports and right to complain when there is a deficiency in the provision.
– Suicide is now decriminalised by the government. Because we cannot imagine the level of stress a person might be going through, it is an empathetic step.
– A person with mental illness now also has the right to confidentiality. Additionally, they can also choose to move out of their homes and not keep any relations with anyone, thereby giving them complete privacy.
– The bill entitles them to government houses, jobs, and minimal medical expense.
– The government will soon set up a Central Mental Health Authority at the national level. And a State Mental Health Authority in every state. It necessitates registry of every mental health institute, practitioner, clinical psychologist, nurse, and psychiatric social worker.
If we want to be a modern progressive society, we must deal with the issue of mental health. As it is an issue difficult for many to understand, it comes with a great deal of stigma. People usually think that being mentally ill is something to be ashamed of.
National crime records bureau has calculated in 2014, almost 15 suicides take place in India every hour. It only urges us to take mental health seriously and address it on a national level.
Our mind set regarding the mental health has been frozen in time, frozen in history. As India looks to a new future in the 21st century, it must acknowledge the errors we have made in the past and reorient our thinking.
– Shashi Tharoor
Edited by Preetika Dubey