NEW DELHI: A legislation to protect rights of persons with mental illness and ensure people with such disabilities are treated humanely by banning practices like tonsuring or chaining of patients was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The advance directive is to be furnished by a person and registered with a Mental Board to be set up by the government at both central and state levels. The bill also provides for an individual to appoint a nominated representative to deal with the kind of treatment in the event of a mental illness afflicting the person opting for a directive.
The person writing the advance directive and his nominated representative shall have a duty to ensure that the medical officer in charge of a mental health facility or a medical practitioner has access to the provision.
Importantly, the bill ensures that all insurance companies will have to make provisions for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness as is the case with a physical ailment.
The proposed law is seen as a path-breaking exercise in trying to codify legal protection for those who suffer from mental ill health in a bid to improve the current situation where the response of care-givers is often marked by apathy and ignorance.
The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2013, seeks to safeguard the right to access mental healthcare, right to community living, right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and right to equality and non-discrimination.
The bill makes access to mental healthcare a right of all persons. Such services should be affordable, of good quality and available without discrimination.
Aiming to ensure proper medical treatment to mentally ill patients, the new bill seeks to regulate both public and private mental health sectors along with establishing a mental health system integrated into all levels of general healthcare.
Under the provisions of the bill, government has an obligation to provide half way homes, community caring centres and other shelters for mentally ill people.
The bill also bans electric-convulsive therapy without anesthesia and restricts psychosurgery. It also bans chaining in any manner of a mentally ill patient and sterilization of men or women, when such a course of action is intended as a treatment for mental illness.
No photograph or any information relating to a person with mental illness undergoing treatment shall be released in media with the consent of person concerned.
There are provisions for establishing a State Mental Health Authority and a Central Mental Health Authority, besides a Mental Health Review Commission.
Source: TOI; "Law aims to ensure humane touch for mental patients"- Mahendra Singh, TNN | Aug 20, 2013, 07.19 AM IST