New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed, by voice vote, the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 that seeks to provide better medical care to mentally-ill besides ensuring their basic rights.
The upper house discussed and debated the bill, which replaces the Mental Health Act, 1987, for over four hours before giving its nod to it. It was passed with a record 134 amendments.
Members, cutting across party lines, expressed concern over condition of mentally-ill people in the country and called for more doctors and facilities for their treatment.
Responding to their concerns, Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda told the house that the bill has been crafted carefully, so that once it is passed, it will have all good provisions for mentally-ill of the country.
“There is no doubt that there is a shortage of staff. We are lookin g into the issue and more and more doctors are being prepared,” he said.
Nadda said that every person will have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
“There have been special provisions for women and children in the bill. Women who are with children will not be separated from their children unless necessary,” he said while responding to concerns of the members.
He said the bill will also secure rights of the mentally people as it will provide them right to mental health, right to community living, right to protection from cruel and inhuman treatment and right to information.
“With this bill, we will be able to empower the mentally ill people and safeguard their interests,” he said.
Nadda also noted that mental illness has been defined in the bill.
“We all know that earlier a person would be admitted just by saying that he is not well, but not anymore,” he said, adding that now mental illness is clearly defined and what treatment would the patient be given is also mentioned.
Psycho surgery, for which lots of apprehensions were expressed, will only be done only when needed, Nadada said, adding that its a “progressive bill”.
The minister said that a mentally-ill person will have the right to make an advance directive that states how he wants to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation and who his nominated representative shall be.