Mental Healthcare Bill 2016: Parliament gives its approval

New Delhi: The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, which makes provision to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services, secured parliamentary approval on Monday with the Lok Sabha's assent to the legislation. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

The bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016, ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. It also assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or poor, even if they do not possess a Below Poverty Line card.

One of the clauses in the bill decriminalises suicide, stating that a person who attempts suicide should be presumed to have severe stress, and shall not be punished.

"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 bill said.

As per the bill, it will be government's duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of any attempt.

The bill also provides that a person with mental illness will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he she wants to be treated for the illness and nominate a representative.

According to a Firstpost article, in February 2017, the Supreme Court asked the Union Health Ministry to formulate guidelines for the rehabilitation of mental health patients in mental asylums. They gave the Centre eight weeks to come up with these guidelines, stating that it is inhuman and inherently wrong to make them live with those who suffer from mental illness. The Apex Court observed that the issue is immensely “sensitive” and that there is a definite need to have healthcare responses that centre on rehabilitation.

As a Hindu article writes, the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016, aims to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental ailments and ensure these persons have the right to live a life with dignity by not being discriminated against or harassed.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: Mar 27, 2017 19:49:17 IST

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