Rajya Sabha passed ‘patient-centric’ Mental Health Care Bill 2013

Rajya-Sabha-History-of-Indian-ParliamentCurrent Affairs : The Rajya Sabha  unanimously passed the Mental Health Care Bill 2013 on 8th August 2016 , which seeks to provide better healthcare to people with mental illness and safeguard their rights.
The bill gives one the right to select a representative, who will design the mode of treatment according to which the person will be treated if he/she gets diagnosed with a mental illness.
The bill also bans the use of electric shock therapy for treating children with mental illness and only permits its use on adults after they have been given anaesthesia and muscle relaxants.
An estimated 6-7% of country’s population suffered from some form of mental illness with 1-2% having an acute condition. Various stakeholders including academia, experts and political establishment were consulted while formulating the Bill, which focuses on community based treatment.

Features of the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013

Rights of persons with mental illness

• It states that every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government. The right to access mental health care includes affordable, good quality of and easy access to services.

• Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal services, and access to their medical records, and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care.

Advance Directive

• It provides right to a mentally-ill person to make an advance directive that states how he wants to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation and who his nominated representative shall be.

• This advance directive has to be certified by a medical practitioner or registered with the Mental Health Board.

• If a mental health professional/relative/care-giver does not wish to follow the directive while treating the person, he can make an application to the Mental Health Board to review/alter/cancel the advance directive.

Central and State Mental Health Authority: It call for administrative bodies to

• Register, supervise and maintain a register of all mental health establishments

• Develop quality and service provision norms for such establishments

• Maintain a register of mental health professionals

• Train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act

• Receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services

• Advise the government on matters relating to mental health

Mental Health Establishments

• It states that every mental health establishment should be registered with the relevant Central or State Mental Health Authority. For being registered, the establishment will have to fulfill various criteria prescribed in the Bill.

• It specifies the process to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals.

• It leaves the decision of admission in the mental health establishment to the person with the mental illness except in case where he/she is unable to make an independent decisions or conditions exist to make a supported admission unavoidable.

Mental Health Review Commission and Board

The commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will periodically review the use of and procedure for making advance directives and advice the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons. It with the concurrence of the state governments, constitute Mental Health Review Boards in the districts of a state. Powers conferred to the board includes

• Register, review/alter/cancel an advance directive

• Appoint a nominated representative

• Adjudicate complaints regarding deficiencies in care and services

• Receive and decide application from a person with mental illness/his nominated representative/any other interested person against the decision of medical officer or psychiatrists in charge of a mental health establishment.

Decriminalising suicide and prohibiting electro-convulsive therapy

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. Electro-convulsive therapy is allowed only with the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. The therapy is prohibited for minors.

As per the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda around 6 to 7 percent of the country’s population suffered from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1 to 2 percent suffer from acute mental disease.

Background

The Bill is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that was ratified in 2007. The Convention requires the laws of the country to align with the Convention.

The new Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 19 August 2013 as the existing Act does not adequately protect the rights of persons with mental illness nor promote their access to mental health care.

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