Friday, October 12, 2012

What is the Mental Health Care Bill,2011 all about ?

This is an amendment to the existing previous Mental Health Care Bill that was since 1987 which was then made from India Lunancy Act 1912..some of the key features include ...

  • The Bill aims at humanising the treatment of mental illnesses and proposes to give patients the right to choose in advance the kind of treatment and recommends use of electric shocks in rare cases.
  • The government also proposes to ban electro convulsive treatment (ECT) (electric shocks) for minors as well as its direct administering to adults and has recommended its use only in rare cases only under general anaesthesia.
  • It also proposes grant of medical insurance for patients who till now are not covered for insurance.
  • The Bill also seeks to broaden the definition of mental illness and recommends decriminalisation of suicide and proposes to ban tonsuring (of heads) of the sick under treatment in mental homes..
  • The Bill also proposes to bring Mental Health Review Commissions at district, state and national levels.
  • In case of any violations of the provisions of proposed law, the Bill proposes imprisonment ranging from six months to two years and/or fine from Rs 10,000 to Rs five lakh.
  • The Bill, however, gives relatives the right to move a quasi-judicial body; the Mental Health Review Commission to appeal against a mentally ill`s decision to refuse treatment in case such a person is a threat to his own life or to that of the others."When the person recovers after treatment, that right will revert to him," the draft law says.
  • It says if anyone needs admission to a hospital, he or she should be given the same. Treatment of mental illnesses would have to be mandatory in all government-run and funded institutions and those below poverty line will get free treatment.

What are the points against which there is agitation against it by CIVIL SOCIETY  ?

  • Disability groups are against involuntary admissions which are literally forced admissions and can be misused against people with mental illness.
  • The groups are also advocating community mental healthcare and an end to establishment of more institutions such as psychiatric facilities. 
  • That is also what is stated by UNCRPD (UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability), which India ratified in 2007.
  • While the world community is talking about de- institutionalising mental health sector, the Bill proposes that anyone can set up mental health institutes. The penalty provisions for such institutes set up without permission are not deterrent enough, as there is only a fine of Rs 50,000 proposed on the first offence.
  • The Bill  maintains status quo on mental asylums, liberalising the laws for involuntary commitments. 
  • The MHC Bill makes a mockery of medical ethics and patient consent. In the last couple of years alone, media has exposed gross human rights violations within these institutions.
  • The right to choose any kind of treatment or refuse has been removed in a step wise manner in the Bill.
WORLD MENTAL HEALTH Day was celebrated recently on OCTOBER 10.

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