Mental health is a human right & needs affirmative action

NHRC meet resolves for implementation of the national mental health programme

GN Staff | September 4, 2015

#nhrc   #mental health   #cyriac joseph  

Terming that mental health is an important human right, justice Cyriac Joseph, acting chairperson of national human rights commission (NHRC) said that the rehabilitation of mentally-ill patients, among other issues, remains is a key area of concern.  “The NHRC is deeply committed to protect this human right and willing to cooperate with all the stakeholders in this regard,“ he said at a day-long meeting of state health secretaries on mental healthcare, organized by the NHRC in New Delhi today.

Justice Joseph stressed that the governments should have a positive attitude towards NGOs, who can play a big role in addressing rehabilitation of mentally-ill patients. He said that having a new law on mental healthcare may be useful but we have already enough laws. The real problem does not lie in the absence of a law but in failure to implement the existing ones.

Intellectually, “we are concerned about the attention, the mental healthcare should receive but that does not take us to change of mindsets, attitude and change of heart.  Unutilized funds by states could be one of the manifestations of this attitudinal problem.  We do not have an explicit culture of recognizing the role being played by each person in a system, including those involved in the mental healthcare, by appreciating their work in order to further motivate them,” he said.

The NHRC’s efforts towards improvement of mental healthcare were given by Secretary General SN Mohanty. He said that the commission is of the firm view that its guidelines and recommendations will give positive results.

Meanwhile, Anshu Prakash, joint secretary in ministry of health & family welfare expressed the hope that the new mental healthcare bill will be ready this year for consideration of the cabinet and will be a landmark act.  He also expressed concern that states were not utilizing funds meant for mental healthcare.

Putting the blame on states Prakash said that mental healthcare needs affirmative action. The national mental health programme (NMHP) is not receiving the due attention from the states. They need to set targets and fix responsibilities to ensure that there is affirmative action on improving the Mental Healthcare.

He also acknowledged that there was huge shortage of human resources, including medical and para-medical staff, lack of infrastructure and general awareness about the mental health. Nobody talks of co-morbidity of mental health with other diseases, which cannot be handled alone either by a psychiatrist or a psychologist without inter-sectoral coordination.

The participants included among others, NHRC members, justice D Murugesan and SC Sinha, senior officers, special rapporteurs, state health secretaries, mental health experts, heads of mental health institutions and civil society representatives.

The day-long meeting discussed the problems and come out with suggestions:

1.   Discuss ways for better implementation of the national mental health programme (NMHP) and especially the district mental health programme (DMHP), infrastructure and manpower development.

2.   Discuss ways for better utilization of funds allocated by government of India for various components of NMHP.

3.   Sharing of good practices on mental care including rehabilitation.

4.   Discuss ways for proper rehabilitation of cured patients in the community.



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