Parliament passes Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016; decriminalises suicide

Posted on:29 Mar 2017 11:22:12
Parliament passes Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016; decriminalises suicide
29 March 2017 Current Affairs: The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016, that provides for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness, and also decriminalises suicide, secured parliamentary approval with the Lok Sabha's assent to the legislation.

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.

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.

An estimated 6-7% of the country’s population suffers from some kind of mental illness, while 1-2% has an acute condition.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE BILL:-

1) Decriminalising attempt to commit suicide

2) Bans use of electric shock therapy for treating children with mental illness

3) Permits conditional use of shock therapy on adults, after being given anaesthesia, muscle relaxants

4) Emphasises on ensuring no intrusion of rights and dignity of people with mental illness

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfares: J P Nadda

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