Mental Health Care Act may drain Kerala’s exchequer

The mental healthcare programmes in the state will undergo a paradigm shift as the Health Department has fast-tracked its efforts to implement the Mental Health Care Act 2017.

Published: 07th October 2018 03:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2018 03:35 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The mental healthcare programmes in the state will undergo a paradigm shift as the Health Department has fast-tracked its efforts to implement the Mental Health Care Act 2017.
Notified in June, the Act envisions the right to mental healthcare and entrusts the respective state governments to ensure facilities for rehabilitating the mentally ill.

But a section of officers with the Health Department says, as the implementation of the Act may put additional financial burden on the state exchequer, especially in the backdrop of post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes, the execution of the same in letter and spirit is likely to take time.
“The state is in the process of framing rules for the Mental Health Care Act. A draft has been prepared and it is now under the scrutiny of the Law Department. Once approved, the state will move towards its implementation,” said a Health Department officer.

A committee comprising Kerala State Mental Health Authority (KSMHA) secretary Dr Jayaprakashan K P, Oolampara Mental Health Centre resident medical officer Dr Sagar T and Psychiatry Department head Dr Anil Prabhakaran has prepared the draft rules of the Act.

“The major changes that will have to be initiated by the state government as part of implementing the Act is to reconstitute KSHMA, constitute Mental Health Review Boards (MHRB) for districts or groups of districts, preparing a panel of retired judges to head the respective boards and others,” said Jayaprakashan.
Meanwhile, officers with the Health Department hinted the constitution of MHRB is not going to be that easy as the state is facing a fund crunch due to post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes.
“As per a rough calculation, each MHRB needs a minimum of `1 crore annually for its functioning.

If that’s the case, it’s going to become a huge financial burden on the state exchequer. The state government may have to find a means to allocate the amount,” said a  Health Department officer.
It is learnt the provisions to ensure half-way homes, sheltered accommodation and supported accommodation as well as providing community-based rehabilitation establishment and services of a minimum acceptable standard are also going to become a financial burden on the exchequer.

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