The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 passed by Rajya Sabha

Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Objectives: The Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2007 has been ratified by India. The bill seeks to bring effect to the provisions contained in the Convention. It will replace the Mental Health Act, 1987.

Key Provisions:

  • The bill seeks to ensure right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal service, access to their medical records and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care.
  • A mentally ill person shall have the right to give an ‘advance directive’ detailing how he/she wants to be treated and also nominate a representative. This directive has to be certified by a registered medical practitioner. In case the professional/care-giver do not wish to follow the directive, they can apply to Mental Health Board for review/cancellation/alteration of the directive.
  • Mental Health Authority at Centre and in States. These authorities will maintain a record of all mental health establishments and professionals, develop these establishments through suitable service and quality provisions, train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals about provisions of the Act, receive complaints regarding deficiencies in service and advise government on matters relating to mental health.
  • Every mental health establishment must meet a criterion to be accorded the status of a recognized institution under the act.
  • Mental Health Review Commission and Board will be established as quasi-judicial bodies to review/alter/cancel advance directives, decide/appoint nominated representative of the mentally ill person, receive and decide against judgements/decision of medical officers/ psychiatrists in-charge of the mental health establishment.
  • The act will decriminalise suicide attempted by persons presumed to be mentally ill at that time. Electro-convulsive therapy will now be allowed only with use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. This therapy has been banned for minors

Issues still to addressed

  • Financial obligations to implement provisions has not been dealt with in the bill. For example- the distribution of expenses between Centre and states.
  • Public health is a state subject.
  • Reports released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare say that 50%-70% of patients do not receive the care they require.
  • Mechanisms to register complaints against violation of law or penalties for violators have not been detailed.