Parliament has passed the Mental Healthcare Bill,2016 with the Lok Sabha approving it today. The bill seeks to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fullfil the rights of such persons during delivery of healthcare services.
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. A person with mental illness will have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare. Under the bill, a child under the age of three years, will not be separated from his or her mother, if the mother is receiving care, treatment or rehabilitation at a mental health establishment.
The bill also provides for a penalty and imprisonment in case of violation of its provisions. Replying to a debate on the bill, Health Minister J P Nadda described the legislation as progressive and patient centric.
Earlier, speaking on the bill, Dr Heena Gavit of BJP supported the bill saying it covers all spheres of mental illness. She, however, expressed concern over shortage of psychiatrists in the field of mental healthcare. She said, only 4500 psychiatrists are avaiable against the required number of over 12000.
Dr. Gavit also suggested that any person suffering from such illness should not be used for a clinical research. Dr Ratna De Nag of TMC stressed the need for regularly carrying out mental health awareness programmes at districts. Bhartruhari Mahtab of BJD said, as per WHO report, the number of women suffering from depression is more than that of men. He said there is no insurance cover available to people suffering from mental illness.