Eastern Journal of Psychiatry

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VOLUME 14 , ISSUE 1-2 ( February-August, 2011 ) > List of Articles

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The Quest for an Ideal Mental Health Act

Rajeev Jaiswal

Keywords : Mental Health Act, Persons with Mental Illness, Mental Health Facilities, MHRC, SMHA

Citation Information : Jaiswal R. The Quest for an Ideal Mental Health Act. 2011; 14 (1-2):50-58.

DOI: 10.5005/EJP-14-1--2-50

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 13-10-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2011; The Author(s).


Legislation in the field of mental health is required to protect human rights of the patients, and to provide for legislative procedures for admission into mental health facilities. After a long and protracted course, the Mental Health Act (MHA) – 1987 was enacted by the Government of India (GOI). Though it contained many progressive features of advancement over the previous India Lunacy Act (ILA) – 1912, it failed to come up to expectation due to various inherent drawbacks and other factors. After ratification of the UNCRPD by India, it became imperative to amend the existing MHA – 1987. The drafting team, which has been assigned duty to prepare the new and amended proposal of the MHA by the Ministry of Health & FW, GOI, issued a draft of a new Act, the Mental Health Care Act on 06.12.10. This proposed draft gives special stress to human rights of persons with mental illness, and makes it obligatory for the government to establish a mental health care delivery system which can be accessed by all. It also proposes to establish Mental Health Review Commission (MHRC) to review admissions to mental health facilities and to ensure human rights of persons of mental illness and State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) to perform various functions like registration and supervision of mental health facilities and other functions related to mental health services. All stake holders are being consulted in the process. But the professionals have reservations on some of its provisions. Stands of the professionals in mental health and those of the human right activists are frequently at variance with each other. Activist groups are pressing for stiff control on psychiatric institutions and practically a ban on involuntary admissions to mental health facilities. Suggestions for improvement in the proposed draft are given.

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