Statutory act dealing with Mental Health Issues in India, By Kartikeya Hundet, At LexCliq

Background

The all-round development of individuals mental, physical, and social health is a vital and essential aspect of life. With the growth of medical science, it becomes even more apparent to highlight concerns on the mental health of an individual as important for overall well-being. According to the world health organization (WHO), the definition of health is contained in its constitution states “Health of person encompasses the composite parts of physical, emotional, mental spiritual and social well-being dimensions”[1]. The individual with a mental disorder is vulnerable in society to abuse, ill-treat, discriminate and violation of their basic human rights. This creates a lot of attention in public in order to reduce such abuse by introducing protective mechanism and to provides equal rights to them in society. Mentally ill people are extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, discrimination and stigma, denial of opportunities, arbitrary detention in custodial settings, low access to health care, limited vocational and residential resources, denial of self-determination in financial and marital matters and other rights deprivations. Therefore, dedicated mental health legislation can take care of all those issues very efficiently[2].

The legislation is an important tool to create a protective measurement for mentally ill-person as it creates awareness and ensures adequate, proper and timely health care services. It also helps in the protection of the human rights of the disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable citizens who are suffering from mental illness and mental disorder. The most fundamental aim of having mental health legislation should be to protect, promote and improve the lives and mental well-being of people in India.

Statutory Law on The Mental Health in India

The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 legislation has replaced outdated law as the Mental Health Act, 1987 to ensure an optimal protection of the rights and wellbeing of a mentally ill person in India. The focus on the Mental health legislation can initiate a legal framework for taking care of important tasks like community integration of mentally ill people, ensuring high-quality care for mentally ill people, and most significantly the protection of basic civil rights and rights associated with important areas like housing, education and employment.

It was a courageous and progressive step taken by the government to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987 (MHA,1987) which was not able to adequately protect the rights of the mentally ill person. The Rajya Sabha in August 2016 passes a bill which was unanimously approved by the Lok Sabha on March 27, 2017, after that bell get approval from the Hon’ble President of India in April 2017[3]. This new enactment completely replaced the old act. It introduces new and modern changes in the law which helps a person with mental illness to get access to medical healthcare treatment from the government, decriminalizing suicide provision under IPC and right were given for affordable, good quality and easy access to mental healthcare facilities.

The United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, 2006 (UNCRPD)[4] used as a guiding principle to form the new act. This convention defines the basic rights of persons with disabilities and it also creates an obligation on the state to promote and protect such basic right of a person with disabilities. India becomes the 7th country to the signatory of this UN convention to protects the right of a person with disabilities in the nation and later on India ratified UNCRPD on October 1 2007, on the eve of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

[1] Patel V, Kleinman A. Poverty and common mental disorders in developing countries. Bull World Health Organ. 2003; 81:609–15

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2572527/pdf/14576893.pdf

[2] Szmukler G. Compulsion and “coercion” in mental health care. World Psychiatry 2015; 14(3):259-61\

[3] The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (MHCA)

[4] Article 4-32; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

 

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