In August 2016 the parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Bill and last year in March the bill secured approval in the Lok Sabha as well.
The Mental HealthCare Bill provides for healthcare and services to people with mental illness and decriminalises suicide. The bill also ensures that people with mental illness have the right to live a life with dignity by not being harassed or by not being discriminated.
- The Mental Healthcare Bill recognises the role of caregivers as those who can be appointed as a nominated representative of a mentally ill person, members of the Central Mental Health Authority and State Mental Health Authorities, or members of Mental Health Review Boards.
- The Mental Healthcare Bill ensures every person has the right to access mental healthcare and treatment from health services run or funded by government. The bill assures free treatment for mentally-ill persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.
- “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code
- A person with mental illness has the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare treatment and physical health care. A photograph or any other information regarding the person cannot be released to the media without the permission of the person with mental illness.
- The government will set up a Central Mental Health Authority at the national level and a State Mental Health Authority in every state. All 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.
- The Bill ensures that every person has the right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. The Bill also ensures that free treatment will be provided for such persons if they are homeless or belong to Below Poverty Line, even if they do not have a BPL card.
- A Mental Health Review Board will be constituted to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance directives.
- Under the Mental Healthcare Bill, the punishment for defying 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.
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