The Parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 with Lok Sabha approving it. The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016, aims to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and ensure these persons have the right to live a life with dignity by not being discriminated against or harassed. The bill also states that 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. The bill was previously passed in the Rajya Sabha in August last year with 134 official amendments.
Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016
What the Mental Healthcare Bill tells?
The Bill defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.
Mental Health in India:
Mental health has today become a much talked about subject. The prominence it has gained in the last few months stands strongly supported given the statistics of mental health related problems in our country. According to an ANI report, the importance of estimates of mental health related problems place their prevalence rates at 5 percent of the population, which amounts to roughly 50 million individuals in our country.
Mental health contributes to 11.6 percent of the global burden of disease and the fact is that only 14.52 percent of those afflicted receive treatment which approximates to 7.26 million. Despite this there is a 300 percent shortage of experts in India.
Provisions of Mental Healthcare Bill:
1. Rights of persons with mental illness: Every person will have the right to access mental healthcare from services which are operated or funded by the government. This would include, good quality, affordable and easy access to services apart from the right to equality of treatment.
2. Decriminalising suicide: The bill decriminalises suicide attempt under the IPC by mentally-ill persons and makes it non-punishable. It was earlier considered punishable.
3. Mental Health Review Commission and Board: This is a quasi-judicial body responsible for revising procedure for making advance directives. It will advise the government on protection of mentally ill persons’ rights.
4. Advance Directive: This provision empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how she/he wants to be treated for the requisite illness and who her/his nominated representative shall be.
Under the Mental Healthcare Bill, the punishment for flouting of provisions will attract up to six months in prison or Rs 10,000 fine or both. Repeat offenders can face up to two years in jail or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh or both.