Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 is the first mental health law framed on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as per the United Nations Convention to which India is signatory.
The bill decriminalises suicide attempt by people with mental illness and guarantees the right to improved healthcare for mental illness people. The bill was first passed in August 2016 in the Rajya Sabha and later in March 2017 in the Lok Sabha. Now it will be passed to president of the country for assent.
Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016: Key Features
- The bill gives every person with mental illness, the right to access mental healthcare from government-operated or funded services. The bill also includes access to affordable, easy, and good quality healthcare services. It protects protect people with mental illness from inhuman treatment, provides them the right to equality of treatment, gives them right to complain in case of insufficiencies, gives them access to free legal services, and medical records.
- The bill provides mentally-ill people with the right to make an advance directive, which explains how the patient want to be treated for the requisite illness and nominate their representative.
- Under the bill, it is mandatory for every mental health establishment to register with their respective State or Central Mental Health Authority. The establishments need to fulfil different criteria that are stated in the bill.
- The bill also summaries the process and procedure for patient’s admission, treatment and discharge.
- The bill has special provisions for women and health, as well as focuses on community based treatment.
- The bill states that Mental Health Review Commission & Board will be quasi-judicial unit, which will hold responsibility to review procedure for making advance directives. The body will also advise the government on the protection of rights of people with mental illness. It will also create Mental Health Review Boards in districts of states will the help of state governments.
- The bill successfully decriminalises the suicide attempt of mentally ill people under the section 309 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with attempt to commit suicide.
- The bill also prohibits the use electro-convulsive therapy for minors. It also mandates that electro-convulsive therapy will be allowed for use only with the use of anaesthesia.