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The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013

An article appeared in The Hindu on June 16, which talks about the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013. This bill approved by the Union Cabinet, is a rights-based approach to mental health care with citizens getting the right to access mental health care. It seeks to provide access to mental health care and services for persons with mental illnesses and to protect and promote and fulfil the rights of patients with mental illness during the delivery of mental health care and services.

On May 27, 2013, the World Health Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 — a first in the history of WHO — which is a commitment by all 194 member states to take specified actions to improve mental health and to contribute to the attainment of a set of agreed global targets.

The action plan focuses on four key objectives and measurable global targets and indicators have been agreed upon as a way to monitor implementation, progress, and impact. The targets include a 20 per cent increase in service coverage for severe mental disorders and a 10 per cent reduction of the suicide rate in countries by 2020.

According to this article, India has a huge burden of mental illness, which is increasing. In 2005, the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, reported 10-20 million persons (one to two per cent of the population) suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and nearly 50 million or five per cent of the population suffer from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. These estimates are now nearer to 3 and 10 per cent respectively.

Other than the reputed institutes of mental health, there are 38 State institutions where conditions are bad with over-crowding, unhygienic atmosphere, poorly staffed and under-regulated with many doctors doing private practice and almost all reporting instances of violation of rights.While there may be about 40 million persons in India with severe mental disorder, there are only 25,000 beds in mental health institutions, private psychiatric nursing homes and psychiatric wards in general hospitals. The Bill tries to address this issue also.

You can view the entire article here.

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