Parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016, which provides for healthcare and services to people with mental illness and also decriminalises suicide.
The bill was passed by Rajya Sabha in August last year. On Monday, the Mental Healthcare Bill secured approval in Lok Sabha too.
The bill was passed by the House through a voice vote and aims to provide for the right to better healthcare for mentally-ill patients.
The bill also allows a mentally ill person to have the right to restrict release of information with respect to the illness and make a complaint about deficiencies in provision of services.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE BILL:
- 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.
- "This bill compels the state to have a mental health programme and it empowers the individual," Health Minister J P Nadda said in Lok Sabha, adding that bill has a "patient-centric" approach with the aim of increasing participation of service users.
- The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive in writing specifying the way the person wishes to be cared for and treated for a mental illness.
- 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.
- On the clauses decriminalising suicide, the bill states that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished. "Suicide is a mental disease. It will not be a criminal act, it will decriminalised. It recognises that it is done under severe mental stress," J P Nadda said.
- "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," the Mental Healthcare Bill said.
- The Mental Healthcare Bill also provides mentally ill people a right to confidentiality in respect of mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare. Photographs or any other information pertaining to the person cannot be released to the media without the consent 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. Every 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.
- 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 flouting 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.