New Mental Health Policy and its aims

New Mental Health Policy and its aims

Question:-In recent years,India has started to pay a greater attention to the mental illness. Explain the new mental health policy.

Mental illness – Mental illness also known as mental disorder is a mental activity that causes either suffering or a damaged ability to function in ordinary life.

Mental health – It refers to the absence of mental illness. It includes our social and psychological well being. It also helps us to ascertain how we handle stress and make choice.

Scenario of Mentally Disabled in India – Around 76 to 85% of mentally disabled people receive no treatment for their mental health problems. The scene is worse in the rural areas. A great amount of attention should be given for the treatment of the people who are suffering from Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia – It is a mental disorder which is caused due to genetic and environmental factors. In India, around 30 lakh patients are affected by schizophrenia.

Many mental illness hospitals dedicated to the treatment of mentally challenged people are coming up. National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences is one of the country's such institute.

Reasons for increasing mental disorder among people :

- Inadeqaute number of Psychiatrists – In India, there are only 3500 psychiatrists. There are less doctors available in the rural areas of the country. The residents of rural areas have to travel a long distance to consult a psychiatrists.

- Urbanization – Urbanization is associated with an increase in number of mental disorders. To sustain in an urban environmental, people need more facilities and infrastructure. Due to lack of adequate infrastructure, the risk of poverty increases. Poverty and mental ill health are inextricably linked in a negative vicious cycle. People experience environmental and psychological adversities that led to an increase in mental disorders.

- Social Stress – Around 60% of the women suffer from social stress in India. The women are experiencing a lot of violence which causes stress and ultimately leads to some sort of mental illness.

- Cultural transformation – Due to migration from rural to urban areas and cultural change, most people feel uncomfortable to adapt into a new environment. This causes a mental illness among the people. Even racism is a part of the cultural transformation.

- Depression – It can lead to certain mental illness like anxiety disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

New Mental Health Policy – The Union Ministry launched the country's first mental health policy on October 10, 2014 in order to promote the mental health and recovery from the mental illness. October 10 is observed as World Mental Health Day across the globe every year.

The Indian Lunactic Asylum, 1958 and the Indian Lunacy Act of 1912 ignored the concepts of human rights and were only worried about the custodial issues.

After Independence, it took 31 years for India to attempt the first enactment, which resulted another nine years later in the Mental Health Act, 1987.

The objectives of the new mental health policy are:

- It will train a large number of health professionals every year. India has one psychiatrist for every 3,43,000 people.

- The policy deals with the social impact of mental illness.

- The policy aims to reduce the risk of suicide attempts by the mentally challenged people.

- Admission of more number of students in different branches of mental health education.

- Increased access to mental health care.

- To conduct awareness campaigns

The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 – The Mental Health Care Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 19 August, 2013. The main features of the Bill are:

- Every person shall have the right to receive treatment from the organizations that are funded by the government.

- A mentally-ill person should have the right to make an advance directive. An advance directive states how the person wants to get treated for the illness during the medical health situation.

- Central and State Mental Health authorities are required.

- Every mental health establishment should be registered with the Central and State Mental Health Authorities.

- The Mental Health review Commission and Board should be set up in every districts of each state.

- A person who tries to attempt suicide shall be considered as a patient suffering from mental illness at that particular time. He shall not be subjected to punishment under the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, a person who tries to commit suicide was punishable under the Section 309 in Indian penal Code. The maximum punishment awarded was an imprisonment of one year. But, recently, the Union Home Ministry withdrew the section 309 IPC. Henceforth, suicide would not be considered as a criminal offense.

Facts and Figures

- WHO suggest that 20% of people in India will suffer from some sort of mental illness by the year 2020.

- 1 in 5 persons suffer from mental disorder in India.

- There are 3500 Psychiatrists in India.

- 80% of the districts in India does not have one psychiatrist.

- In India, around 30 lakh patients are affected by schizophrenia.

- France was the first country to decriminalize attempted suicide after the French Revolution.

- The recent WHO report had said that India sees the largest numbers of suicides globally.

- The highest suicide rate occurs in the 15-29 age group.
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