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Mental Healthcare Act (MHA) 2017

Context:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted visits to all government-run mental healthcare institutions in India to assess the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (MHA).

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Mental Healthcare Act (MHA), 2017
  3. What are the challenges?

Details:

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted visits to all government-run mental healthcare institutions in India and found that all 46 facilities were keeping patients long after their recovery, which infringes upon the human rights of mentally ill patients.
  • The NHRC report flagged the inhuman and deplorable condition of these facilities and noted that they were illegally keeping patients.

Mental Healthcare Act (MHA), 2017

  • The Mental Healthcare Act (MHA), 2017 emphasizes the agency of individuals and their right to live as part of a community, with a focus on rehabilitation.
  • The Act requires the government to create opportunities for community living, such as halfway homes, sheltered accommodations, rehab homes, and supported accommodation.
  • The Act discourages the use of physical restraints, unmodified electro-convulsive therapy, and promotes the right to hygiene, sanitation, food, recreation, privacy, and infrastructure.
  • The Act recognizes that people have their own capacity, and under Section 5, they can make advance directives and nominate a representative for themselves to enable supported decision-making.
  • This is the first time a psychosocial approach to mental health has been adopted in India.
  • The Act also acknowledges that external factors, such as income, social status, and education, impact mental well-being, and recovery needs a psychiatric as well as a social input.

What are the challenges?

Long stays at state psychiatric facilities

  • According to a 2018 report by the Hans Foundation, around 36.25% of residential service users at state psychiatric facilities have been living in these facilities for one year or more.
  • This is despite the Mental Healthcare Act (MHA) requiring that people have the right to live in the community and access less restrictive options.

Lack of functioning State Mental Health Authorities and Mental Health Review Boards

  • Under the MHA, all states are required to establish these bodies to oversee the functioning of mental healthcare institutes and ensure compliance with the Act.
  • However, in many states, these bodies are either yet to be established or remain defunct.

Poor budgetary allocation and utilization of funds

  • A lack of adequate funding results in shelter homes being underequipped, establishments understaffed, and professionals and service providers not adequately trained to deliver proper healthcare.
  • This makes it difficult to provide quality care and rehabilitation to patients.

Lack of concrete efforts towards implementation of Section 19

  • While Section 19 of the MHA recognizes the right of people to live in the community, there have been no concrete efforts towards implementation.
  • This makes it difficult for patients to access alternative community-based services and rehabilitation.

-Source: The Hindu


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