Mental Health Care Bill 2016

Aims to provide better healthcare for people suffering from mental illness and also to decriminalise suicide.
Why this bill was needed?
  • The Bill is the first mental health law framed as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is signatory. It requires the countries to align their laws with the Convention.
  • The Bill repeals the existing Mental Health Act, 1987, which is vastly different in letter and spirit. The Act of 1987 had been widely criticised for proving to be inadequate to protect the rights of mentally ill persons.
  • The Bill provides “rights-based” approach to mental illness by consolidating and safeguarding fundamental human rights of the patients.
  • In India, around 6 to 7% of the population suffers from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1 to 2% suffers from acute mental disease.
Key provisions:
  • Rights of persons with mental illness:
    • It gives every person right to access mental healthcare services operated or funded by the government.
    • It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services.
    • It also provides right to equality of treatment, protect such persons from inhuman treatment, access to free legal services, medical records and right to complain in case of deficiencies in provisions.
  • Advance Directive: It empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how they want to be treated for the requisite illness and nominate their representative.
  • Mental Health Establishments: Every mental health establishment must register with the respective Central or State Mental Health Authority. For registration, the concerned establishment must fulfil different criteria as mentioned in the Bill.
  • Procedure and process: It also outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and subsequent discharge of mentally ill persons.
  • Community based treatment: It focuses on community based treatment and special provisions for women and health.
  • Mental Health Review Commission and Board:
    • It will be quasi-judicial body responsible for reviewing procedure for making advance directives.
    • It will advise the government on the protection of rights of mentally ill persons’.
    • It will constitute Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts with the help of state governments.
  • Decriminalising suicide: It effectively decriminalises suicide attempt under the section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable
  • Prohibits electro-convulsive therapy: It will be not used for minors. It will be allowed only with the use of anaesthesia.
Mental Health Authority (MHA)
  • The Government would set-up Central Mental Health Authority at national-level and State Mental Health Authority in every State.
  • Every mental health institute and mental health practitioners including clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers will have to be registered with this Authority.
Function of MHA
  • 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, and
  • Advise the government on matters relating to mental health
Concerns and Challenges with the bill
  • Unlike the Act of 1987, the Bill does not provide for management of property of mentally ill persons. This is a serious cause of concern as mentally ill persons could easily be exploited and their property taken away from them, leaving such individuals in a perpetual state of dependency.
  • The financial memorandum of the Bill does not estimate the expenditure required for meeting the obligations under the Bill nor does it provide details of the sharing of expenses between the central and state governments. Without the allocation of adequate funds, the implementation of the Bill could be affected.
  • Several states face financial constraints, the central government might have to step in to ensure funds for the implementation of the law.
Related Questions:
  • Will decriminalising suicide lead to more suicides? Why or why not? Discuss legal and ethical aspects related to this?
Good Read:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top