Asia

Thousands cured, but stuck in mental asylums for years

Thousands of people who have been cured of mental illness are being “illegally detained” in 43 mental hospitals across 24 states as only two states have constituted mental health review boards (MHRB). These are meant to review all cases of people who have been held in an institution for 30 days. According to the report of a Task Force constituted by the health ministry, over 36% of patients in mental hospitals have been there for one year or more.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who has filed a public interest petition on the issue in the Supreme Court, pointed out that ever since the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 was enacted, the state is supposed to provide services that will help integrate those who come out of these hospitals in society. “Holding them indefinitely in the hospital amounts to illegal detention,” said Bansal seeking the courts intervention to free these patients and order states to provide them services to help integrate them in society.
In February 2017, the Supreme Court had told the central government that it could not allow people to be kept in mental asylums or nursing homes after they are fully cured. “They have to be brought back to civil society. You will have to frame a policy,” said the bench. The government had sought time to frame guidelines for the rehabilitation of mentally ill persons.
However, during the hearing of the current petition the court was informed that despite the centre sending more than half a dozen reminders to the states, only two states (Sikkim and Tripura) have functional mental health review boards. Most havent framed regulations for the implementation of the Act and only 10 have notified State Mental Health Authorities and appointed all the members to complete the authority. Several are in the process of doing so.
“The Act was passed in May 2017, but it was notified only in 2018 to give governments time to set up structures. It is two and a half years since the Act came into force and there is no sign of anything happening. If MHRBs, which mandatorily include civil society, a person with mental illness and/or caregivers, had been constituted, they would have insisted on community rehabilitation plans for the patients who didnt need hospitalization. Under what provision are thousands of patients being kept in hospitals? For all practical purposes, they are being illegally detained and it is a civil rights issue,” said a senior psychiatrist involved in rehabilitation of persons witRead More – Source